Here are four areas where parents can coach their children to build skills in the key areas necessary for children to be successful in life according to the Incredible Years Parenting Program.
1. Academic and Persistence Coaching. In this area, parents can use Descriptive Commenting, which helps build children’s language ability. In this strategy, the adult basically narrates what the child is doing in his or her play. It can be likened to a radio announcer giving a play-by-play. If a parent wants to encourage learning in colors he can say “You have the red car and the yellow truck.” To improve behavior a parent can say “You followed directions exactly like I asked you. You really listened.” When trying to foster persistence, one of the most important life-skills a child can learn, parents can say “You are staying calm and trying again.”
2. Social Skills Coaching. Parents can both describe and prompt friendly behaviors in children as this is important for children in making friends. A parent can teach helping and teamwork by saying, “You are both working together and helping each other like a team.” Patience, asking and sharing can be fostered by saying “You waited and asked first if you could use that. Your friend listened to you and shared.” Problem-solving and cooperation can be increased by saying, “You both solved the problem of how to put those blocks together. That was a great solution.”
3. Emotion Coaching. Describing children’s feelings not only helps them build an emotion vocabulary, it also serves to help them regulate their emotions because they are able to recognize and tell the parent how they feel. To help children express frustration a parent can say, “That is frustrating, and you are staying calm and trying to do that again.” Curiousity can be fostered by saying, “You are so curious. You are trying out every way you think that can go together.”
These last two focuses for parent coaching, social and emotional skills, can be taught which is a shift of thinking that has taken place in the last decade or two. Coaching in these areas will help us build well-rounded successful adults which according to Daniel Goleman of Social Intelligence, “once you get into the workforce, then what turns out to distinguish the stars from average is emotional and social intelligence: how we manage ourselves, how we handle relationships.”
Children do not come into the world knowing what behaviors are good and bad. They only learn to do things based on positive attention to their actions. Through the use of coaching language, parents can specifically point out many crucial life skills in a positive way without too many questions so their children’s learning is greatly enhanced and their relationship with their children blossoms.