Parenting can be rewarding, frustrating and humbling in equal measure. Every developmental stage, it seems, brings with it new challenges. For those times when you need a little bit of help, parent coaching can be a wonderful resource. It equips parents with skills and strategies to build strong, healthy relationships with their children. We chat to PAULA BRUNNING, lead parenting coach at The Counselling Place, to learn more about this positive parenting tool and how it can benefit your family.
“At its heart, parent coaching is about discovering and empowering your unique parenting style, as well as parenting the child you have and not the child you wished for,” says Paula. Parent coaching, she adds, is useful for a variety of common concerns, such as behaviour problems, time management, co-parenting, managing technology use, parenting during times of transition, crisis or divorce, and, for older children, supporting independence.
Parent coaching at The Counselling Place in Singapore
What inspired you to become a parent coach?
My interest in it began when I sought support and strategies for my own parenting challenges. Parenting is such an impactful role, yet one we are often under-prepared for. Helping parents navigate this space is extremely rewarding as the ripple effect is so real, supporting not only the immediate parents, but also their children and their children’s future families.
Tell us about your parent coaching philosophy.
Though there may be common challenges and experiences, parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I start with establishing a client relationship within the coaching context, and progress to establishing goals and fostering parent empowerment through self-awareness, compassion and encouragement.
What are some of the methods and techniques you use?
Natural curiosity on my part plays a significant role part in discovering a parent’s strengths and challenges. Everyone’s situation is unique, and it’s important to me that each parent I work with feels valued and understood. During sessions, I draw on numerous techniques, such as Adlerian Psychology, Attachment Theory, Positive Psychology and Solution Focused Therapy.
What are the key benefits of parent coaching?
By investing in parent coaching, you can benefit from increased self-awareness, reduced stress and elevated confidence, as well as building skills that will help you be more resilient when facing future challenges.
I use rating scales, frequency measures and anecdotal feedback to track and measure a client’s progress and ensure their goals are being met.
How do you tailor your approach?
Once parents feel supported and understood through the coaching process, goals can be established and refined. These are determined by the client through an active process of clarifying what is important to them. Even if two clients have a similar goal, the way that is supported would depend on each family’s needs, beliefs and resources.
Empowering parents allows them to more readily adapt to their changing needs down the line, too.
What are some common challenges that parents face today?
Society and school systems can place unnecessary pressure on parents. For expatriate families, there can be additional stressors, such as adjusting to a new country, school or cultural expectations, as well as possibly having fewer support systems in place. Should adults be unable to take proper care of themselves during difficult periods, this can impact on their parenting (despite the best of intentions!).
Can you provide some examples of self-care strategies?
Self-care is so important as it underpins our ability to parent effectively. From noticing and letting go of judgement, strengthening support systems and increasing movement or exercise, to expressing feelings and sharing stories, building in small moments that nourish your being is vital.
How do you help parents find effective solutions?
It’s important for a parent to increase their own self-awareness and understand how they deal with emotions, stress and relationships, as well as their beliefs around parenting. Once we can let go of potentially unrealistic expectations, our ability to parent effectively is enhanced. However, we can rarely do all this ourselves. Helping parents to identify and address life stressors and strengthen their support systems through parent coaching is often an essential step.
How does parent coaching encourage open communication within a family?
This requires emotional literacy – that is, being able to recognise and express feelings, the ability to see beyond behaviours to what might be motivating them, and reinforcing a connection before any redirection or discipline. Parents may need to practice these positive parenting skills to develop them effectively. Every parent will have their own vision of the relationship they want with their child. That vision can be supported through trusting communication and a mutual respect for self and other.
What strategies do you recommend for improving communication within a family?
Family communication is elevated when there is a true sense of belonging and encouragement. Supporting parents to communicate in a way that demonstrates self-respect, and respect for the child, creates the best opportunity for open communication. Meal-time conversation, question card games and family meetings are all possible ways to practice communication.
In this way, children learn how to confront, question and think critically, so parents shouldn’t be afraid to embrace difficult conversations or challenging topics. This can be new for many parents if they were unable to question or ask a parent for help without fear or rejection when they were young.
What advice can you offer to parents who want to build confidence in their parenting abilities?
Confidence comes from positive parenting experiences. Noticing moments of connection can be energising, whether that is through a hug, offering an affirming statement, or doing something together. Making note of the small wins and moments of relatedness can also help parents feel their efforts are worthwhile.
How do you approach parent coaching with families from diverse cultural backgrounds?
Rather than assume a particular set of parenting values is “right”, the focus at The Counselling Place is on respecting and understanding each family. This collaborative and individualised approach allows me to best support each family’s unique perspectives and challenges.
The Counselling Place is at #11-00 The Octagon, 105 Cecil Street
This article first appeared in the January 2024 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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