Be the Dad 14. Be the Life Coach Dad
Being able to lead and guide your kids daily, like a coach would his players, will cause major growth, wins and stability in their lives and be a major source of satisfaction in your life.
Media Release: Congratulations, you have been selected to be Head Coach.
A good coach; spots talent, communicates well, plans for victory and nurtures strengths and weakness while overcoming difficulties and obstacles.
A bad coach gets fired except you can’t get fired, so you may as well learn to be a good coach.
This is a super satisfying part of your job description as Dad, to look at their next stages and plan how to prepare them to go through it. Here are some great keys on how to coach a team of Champions:
Ask your child what the answers and solutions could be.
One of our kids was struggling at school, she had started the year really well but we had received an email from the teacher saying that she had gone backwards. At the start of the year, we had put in place a vision and plan to be a helpful student who was learning well, but this plan had gone off the rails with the arrival of new friends on the scene. We felt tempted to say, ‘hey, you need to ditch these guys and do this’ but we slowed our pulses and asked her what was going on. I let her tell me the story and then asked key questions like:
‘why do you think the teacher would have contacted us?’, ‘what do you think is slowing down your learning?’ and ‘how do you think you could get back on track?’.
She provided some great answers and solutions and I filled in the blanks with suggestions for success. Then I rolled out a plan for success, which was daily goals of the four most important things to work on (which she had suggested as part of the questioning) and some device time as a reward if she achieved these things. We sent her off to school with these four keys written on the inside of her hand and she turned the situation around for the better in a week although we monitored and would ask her about the day for a much longer time.
Debriefing the day and helping to give perspective
I love the saying by Ian Grant of the Parenting Place:
‘kids are excellent observers and terrible interpreters’.
When you have a conversation at the end of the day with your children you can hear what they have observed and what they think this means. Understand where they are at with their schooling and friends, what is easy and what is hard and what they need help with in their lives.
Make time to have a convo daily, tea time or bedtime is good and use these conversation starters:
How was your day? What was hard? What was easy? Favourite thing? Least favourite? Funniest moment?
Just listening will help you understand where your kids are at.
Being on the same page as Mum
When both parents are together in purpose, the message that the child is receiving is twice as loud and clear as one parent giving direction and the child is much more likely to reach their goal. Its 100% more effective than divided parents. Make time to have conversations about your kids, what they are going through and how you are going to deal with a situation, be it a goal or a challenging obstacle. If you can’t get on the same page then it is better to not do anything than move forward. To get on the same page you need to work hard on good effective communication and problem solving.
Your stories of Wins and Lessons - ‘When I was 10….’
Stories are one of the greatest ways to teach. Your experiences are personal and full of emotion and your kids will love to hear them. Stories are memorable and you kids will recall these in similar situations and they will remember the principles . ‘Dad had a hard time when he was a boy with his shaggy hair/ next door neighbour/ best friend but he got through it’. Think of your story before you share it to make sure that the lesson you are trying to teach is the right one and will empower them.
Helping them stick to commitments
Teaching commitment is an important attribute to live by. For our kids to learn; ‘When you feel like giving up, push through to the end of the season or term’ or ‘your team is relying on you’ or ‘we need to stick to what we started’ are invaluable lessons when it comes to being an adult. In our family we are careful to choose which sports and activities that we sign the kids up to so that we make sure that we are ready to teach and maintain commitment. Be ready to spot the difference between a change of mind and a genuine reason for ending early.
Forming powerful beliefs and Mantras - ‘In our family we dig deep’
I love this area, writing powerful statements deep in their lives. Henry Ford said ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right’.
One of our kids we have labelled ‘the finder’. She has a natural ability and tenacity to find lost things so whenever something is lost we call for ‘the finder’. This is a huge source of pride for her and also means she will search long and hard because of her established self belief.
A statement that we love to say to our kids ‘dig deep’. When they are struggling, we say ‘wow, great job, you are digging deep right now’ this gives them more energy to go further. When they have come out the other side, win or loss we will congratulate them on digging deep. The kids now encourage each other to dig deep too!
Speaking into their strengths and weaknesses
We identify the strengths of our kids individually and tell them that they are ‘the finder’, the ‘can-do girl’ , the one who ‘pushes through’ which creates great personal identity. You can also look at traits that look negative, like bossiness for example and say ‘you are going to be a great leader, kind and encouraging’. If your kid finds it hard to tidy up, speak into them the greatness that they will be and that you want them to be like ‘you are a great tidier’. I would often boss my younger brother around which I would be corrected for doing, but it gave insight into me and my Dad would often say to me (not in the moment of me bossing) ‘you are going to be a great leader’ which made me feel amazing and created the belief that I could be.
Not being the solution, but helping them towards their goal - creating thinkers
You want your child to be able to think their way through a difficult situation instead of just doing what you have told them to do, as you will not always be there. This is about creating problem solvers:
1/ First understand their situation by listening
2/ Secondly ask a series of leading thought provoking questions:
What good could happen if you do this?
What Bad thing could happen if you do this?
What good thing could happen if you don’t do this?
What Bad thing could happen if you don’t do this?
What have you tried in the past, how did that work?
What do you think the best option is?
3/ Thirdly go over their answer with them and help by giving your direction where needed- ‘so if you were to do this, this could happen, I think that this could help’.
Helping your kids win at what is important
Understand what you believe to be important for your kids and then help them on the way to achieving these things.
Making the most of schooling is really important to me. I don’t want the 12-13 years of schooling to be a drag that they can’t wait to get out of. I want my kids to enjoy and thrive in every area of their lives. So I try to get the kids into a ‘success feeling’ as early as possible. Reading is the first thing that new entrants at school tackle so I go over the first words lists with the kids, set goals and rewards for when they have mastered that level of words. Most importantly, they learn how to read which is amazing for self development and as a quiet pass time.
Spot their skills and nurture them early - Potty Boy
Look for what comes naturally to your child and nurture that. You often need to try many different activities and experiences to find out what this is. When I was 2 or 3 ,my parents identified that I liked drawing so they had me drawing on the potty with a tray, paper and pencils. My Dad would always bring home scrap paper for me to draw on and would encourage me to get my drawings displayed in the local paper. I would take many drawings to my parents and they would ooh and ahh about how great they were and to encourage me to keep going, I’m so glad that they did as this is a major source of satisfaction for me as an adult.
On the back of this, that thing that your kids are specifically great at, might not become obvious until they are much older. In the meantime, be encouraging towards their character traits and personality.
Their dream vs your dream
I really wanted to be in the NBA, the National Basketball Association in the United States. I trained in the morning and played at every school break. Despite my genetics, I prayed to be 6ft 4’’ like Michael Jordan but I didn’t have a lot of natural ability (or height) but loved the game so much. I would love my kids to be in the NBA, it would be incredible. However after having kids I realise that you want to spot talent, ability and desire in your child and then carefully consider whether you want to guide your kids down the hard path to be a professional athlete or a professional anything!
Sometimes just playing because its fun is the greatest thing and you can do that anytime.
Struggles are a great opportunity for learning
Struggles are a gift, they are positive or a negative depending on how you look at them. It can be tough when a hard situation at school arises but this is a great opportunity to plan, develop character and for your child to problem solve. If you and your child can deal with a struggle now and develop the character and tools to overcome it, then when a bigger version of the same thing happens in the future as a teen or an adult, they are going to be much better equipped to deal with it. Issues of character are dealt with either now or later.
Different kids, different methods
Each of your children will have different combinations of personality, character and strengths and weaknesses. What comes easily to one child could be very difficult for the next. Some of the systems that we put in place for our number one, did not inspire or motivate our number two. We had to take a step back and think, what will help motivate this next child and help them grow? Think of their personality and what natural strengths they have and try and work with these or just try many different parenting techniques until you come upon one that works and is empowering for that child.
I hope that this has been helpful and I’m excited for the wins, the satisfaction and results that you will experience as being the ‘Coach Dad’.