July 4, 2016 I formed Be Kind Coaching LLC. Why then? Because it marked my personal Independence Day! I set off to start my own business helping families with their children. I had a vision of what I thought that would look like, but it has morphed into something with more impact and meaning that I could have imagined. I am so thankful for the 10 families that were brave and invited a stranger into their home to help decode their children and learn new skills that focuses on discipline over punishments.
With each parent, I share my personal story of feeling disconnected and misunderstood by my family. The feeling of isolation that can manifest itself as misbehavior. I can identify with the same behaviors that their children are exhibiting and offer hope that they can connect effectively to their children with out having to become permissive and passive. Often times what children are yearning for are boundaries, validation and appropriate consequences. It just takes learning a new communication style and a TON of patience and practice.
I love that my role is to offer accountability, a fresh perspective, and new techniques- ultimately peace! My position is to inspire connection and understanding, re-framing situations to empower growth in families. Truly redefining the role of parent from "boss" to "leader". I love seeing a family make a total 180, supporting them to move away from pandemonium and closer to harmony. The goal is never perfection but deeper understanding. "This just makes sense!" is the battle cry I have now come to love hearing!
In the past year, these 5 topics were most commonly discussed. If you have experienced any of these, know you are not alone.
1. "I didn't know it would be this hard."
Being a parent is hard, I agree. Being in a relationship with someone is consistent hard work. The pressure that parents put on themselves to have the answers and "do it all" is an impossible scenario. With no practical course/manual for "How to be a parent" it's no wonder the job is so much more than anyone ever bargains for. It's a highly intense 24/7 job that provides no "on the job training", mostly relying on how you were parented and your perspective on others parenting as the navigation device.
I have spent most of my life working with a variety of people, learning how to read their cues to create the environment for mutual respect. I understand that this relationship isn't about being right and wrong, but more of offering a safe place to fail and learn. Redefining the word "discipline" to mean the big picture version of your family, not just mean the punishments which are doled out. (Thank you to Tamar Jacobson for that word re-frame!)
2. "Their brother/sister is not like this."
Truth. Siblings may share some similarities, but they are their own people with their own facilities and strengths. When comparing children to their siblings, parents subconsciously create a "wrong" and "right" way to grow. This may cause more of a division, resulting in fights, yelling, and hurt feelings. I urge parents to look to at their children as individuals, with individual needs and supports. Imagine growing up with a true talent for art, but only being compared to your sister's superior math skills. You would start to resent math...and your sister.
Spirited children often test the current parenting tools that you know and use. They are quick to highlight the weakness in the parenting process. Spirited children are truly a gift! They challenge parents to grow and learn! Often times we see this as a negative challenge and seek to squash them, I encourage leaning in to their challenge and learn a new way. Cue: Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset!
3. "Time Out does NOT work."
And I repeat...
TIME OUT DOES NOT WORK.
It may appear to stop the behavior, but stopping is not always the same as solving. Creating a culture of compartmentalizing in place of processing is a dangerous move. Implementing the standard use of time out, children are left feeling like love is conditional only for good behavior. "I misbehaved so I am not worthy of love" and this limiting belief stays with us through adulthood. The action of teaching children how to process through negative actions and emotions is invaluable to their growth. Designing routines and a practice around how to define a personal boundary and enforce a natural/logical consequence.
Children by nature are curious and will make mistakes. How the world reacts to them when these mistakes are made will foster or reinforce the behavior. It's difficult to calm yourself first and then stay present to help your child through a difficult tantrum. Try to talk in peace and bring the moment back up using empathy and compassion. Please re-read that last line, it is SO counter-intuitive but I promise it is the sustaining approach. Strive to work together, identifying what went wrong and how to build a strategy for the next time it happens. Replacing the negative reminder with a goal to achieve can be super empowering to a family in crisis.
4. "I don't want to extinguish their spirit."
This is one of the top said comments when I meet with parents. Parents I work with are frustrated, near burn out, but still hang on hope that there is a different way to approach their children- they just don't know how. They identify in their own childhood something that they are fearful to recreate. It is the feeling of being brushed off and rejected for being themselves as children. The parents see their child's spirit as a gift and want to foster it but the miscommunication between everyone is creating a strong discourse in the home. "How can I allow my child to be independent when I can not trust them to adhere to the non-negotiable rules of the household."
What if the answer is not black and white but more grey. It is about designing a system within your family that fosters independence individually while creating clear boundaries with logical consequences. Creating space to practice and discuss these terms while implementing them with a strong intention. This transforms your role as parent into a supporter role and away from being the judge and jury. Can you imagine space where you no longer have to micromanage and react, instead responding to your agreed upon family terms. This is allowing children to feel empowered through their strong emotions and choices while still keeping the integrity of your values.
5. "I don't know the right things to do!"
As I have been told over and over again: is no manual for this job. There is no 90 day training period before launch. There is no "shadow the manager" until you get your barrings. You spend 9 months preparing for what is going on inside and then once outside it's "good luck kid, you'll make it". AHHHHHHH...yeah that can be overwhelming. Even if you've read all the "how to" books and "what to expect" books little do they cover how to trust your intuition and ask for help when needed. And when I say ask for help, ask for help until it feels right. Often times I've seen parents rely on circumstantial, well intended, band aid advice that works for a week then crashes because it wasn't a universal answer. Because there's no universal answer other than expect growth and adjust accordingly.
There's a reason the baby after the first is typically "easier". You've already had that on the job training with the first. You are a little bit more prepared for the bigger issues and are more confident for the bumps that will come will smooth out. It's now time to stay on your toes for when new challenges arise- again trust your instincts and reach out for support you can trust! You're not a "bad parent" because you don't have the answer- you're a GREAT parent for asking for help!
I want every parent to know that the answer is out there for them. If something that has worked in the past is no longer working, search out support and guidance to find the right answer for your family. The past 365 days have truly taught me to stay open and response to the needs of the individual and I echo that same theme in the work I do with families. Being stuck in the negative fixed and static state is not a happy place. Trust your gut that there is an easier way and let's chat! Cheer to 365 more days of Be Kind Coaching!
If you're interested in learning more- come join MegAnne and Kate at for their parent chat Empower the Mama and the Papa July 10th @ 9AM. We are moving the chat to MyBirth. Tickets available here!