I am a coach. Even when I don’t work with a client. Even when I am mothering my daughter. And even when I am disconnected, exhausted or unhappy. It’s part of life. It’s part of being human.
I didn’t realize I was using my coaching skills when parenting my daughter until someone asked me if I was missing my job. I am so grateful for this question. It kind of bothered me at the beginning. Not the question, but my answer. I said « no ». And then I realized you can’t miss something you have inside, something you do every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t coach my daughter. And I’ll never will. Just like a doctor who does not perform surgery on a family member.
But I do use some of my skills:
1. Listening. It is so rare to be truly listened to by someone. And yet it’s such a powerful, striking experience. If you have worked with a coach, I’m sure you have noticed it. When I’m with my daughter I listen to what she tells me, especially through her body language as she says only a few words.
I try to articulate and clarify what is going on. It helps her put words on her emotions, see the result of what she is creating by her actions. It helps us when we work out through tantrums. « I see you are angry at me. You are angry because I removed you from the electric wire. Is that right? »
I acknowledge who she is. I don’t say just « good job » but « I saw you climbing on the playground. You took a big risk. It wasn’t easy but you tried several times until you made it happen. You are fearless »
2. Intuition. This is probably one of the most precious tool a coach can have. We do learn a lot of techniques but they are nothing without intuition.
My intuition gives me clues about what my daughter might need or want, about what’s going on with her on a difficult day. It helps me navigate the days especially as she can’t talk and articulate her needs by herself yet.
Children are curious by nature. When we grow up, we become more and more conditioned and we are easy to go on automatic pilot.
I’m being genuinely curious when I’m with her. It’s not so difficult, I just try to look at her world through the wondering eyes of a child, just like she looks at the work around her. We explore together and there are no made-up answers. For example, when she started eating solids I let her explore the food and eat by herself. I didn’t spoon fed her. I watched her with much curiosity developing her eating skills and learning to trust her body who told her what she could eat and how much food she needed. She figured it out by herself. I was just there to hold the space. And clean the mess ;)
4. Celebrating failure
Try and failure is how toddlers learn. Small children crawl, stand up, fall again and again until they learn how to walk. We need celebrate the failures, they are even more important than success. My daughter gets angry very quickly when she doesn’t succeed something as fast as she wanted so I remind her that trying is the key. Failing is a necessary step in the learning process.
5. Asking permission
As a coach I ask permission before asking a question regarding a sensitive topic. It's a matter of respect for the client. Children need to be respected too. When entering their space and their lives. For example, let's not forget that they have the ownership of their bodies. It is so important to ask permission to a baby or a toddler before we intrude their private space: when we change a diaper, clean them in the bath, offer them food, …
Beyond all these skills, there is one cornerstone that comes from the Co-active Coaching Model and guides me in my relationship with my daughter : « people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole » . I believe children have all the ressources in them. They learn how to crawl, walk, talk not because we teach them but through their curiosity, enthusiasm and perseverance. They are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. There is nothing to be fixed in a child. They don’t need us to teach them much, to train them to sleep or to force them learn things they are not interested in. They are whole and perfect. If we really listen to them, interact with genuine curiosity and intuition, respect and trust them, we can build relationships that help them bloom in their lives.
I am so grateful to the lady who asked me « Don’t you miss your job? » Her question was a beautiful opportunity for me to pause and reflect. I will definitely be parenting in a more mindful way from now on.