Raising confident, independent, and happy children requires us to give up the amount we do for them and help them to be more self-responsible and accountable.
Many of you have, or are in the process, of sending children off to school. There are many common themes between raising more responsible, accountable children and leading or managing individuals in a more productive, nurturing environment. Since we are in a “back to school” frame of mind, let’s focus on our children. My guess is that you will be able to see the corollaries with leadership.

We are so used to making ‘statements’ as parents in order to get across what we want, what we expect, and correcting, scolding, preaching that we sometimes miss opportunities to really impact our child’s growth as a responsible, accountable person. Often, our parents are our model for our parenting style. This only becomes alarming when we find ourselves saying, “I’ve become my father or mother”, after a particular action with our child. How useful our parents are/were as parenting role models is an important question to answer. Being a great parent requires not only love as a foundation, but a firm understanding of how we need to ‘respond’ to our child not just ‘react.’

One of the greatest ways to improve our relationship with our children, while making them more self-responsible and self-accountable, is through questions. Questions are designed for information for you and information for your child. When used well they convey respect and affirm them.

When attending my “Coaching Your Children to Greater Success” class, parents often assume I am going to give them some magical formula to ‘fix’ their child. In essence I do, but it comes by way of change in the parent’s behavior. Ugh! Now it gets difficult, because giving up our behaviors that don’t help our child in favor of behaviors that will strengthen our child and give them more of what they need is very hard; many parents never see how their behavior is contributing to the behavior they are getting from their child, or they choose not to change. How sad. We agree that raising our children is really important, yet we are unwilling to do some things that would help our child because it is too inconvenient or too difficult for us. If this statement is uncomfortable I invite you to consider what kind of parent you want to be, and what you want for your child. Is your current behavior helping or hurting your desires? Are you willing to change? (I’ve had to answer these questions in my own parenting life. They were not easy, but they helped guide me to become a much better parent.)

Understanding what our children want and helping them get that is often a shift in thinking. Part of helping our children get clarity about who they are and who they want to be starts with conversations over time. The magic is in our questions. Tell me about school? Was that okay (in response to something that happened at school or with a friend)? What could you have done differently? You seem to really like ________ (person/subject), tell me about that? Giving them a chance to talk and explore enables them to understand about the choices they are making and the outcomes they are getting. Over time they begin to understand their choices in a different way. It isn’t just about pleasing someone, but the better choices are helping them get more of what they want.

By understanding more of what our children want we are able to help them reflect on behaviors that aren’t helping them. The act of reflection allows them the space to say internally that they need to change something. We can get compliance from our children through nagging, cajoling, yelling, threatening, or preaching, but often we do damage to the relationship and never really engage them in their own motivation. In the end, if we want them to be committed to their own change, we may need to find another way. That other way is through questions (coaching) that help the child explore and learn that they want something different, and need to change their thinking or their behavior in order for that to happen.

It is a new school year. What do you want this year that is different from last year? What change in your behavior would help this year be different?

Have a great year! If this has resonated with you in some way and you’d like to have a conversation, contact me. I’d be happy to help.