or my “absolutely do that at home” recommendation
Just a few days ago I had my own lightbulb-moment in Coaching.
As usual before school holidays our kids had been constantly tired and cranky and acting it out on each other. As usual, we talked to them repeatedly about their behaviour and about how that had to change. When that didn’t help, we started threatening them with all the things they wouldn’t be able to do during Spring Break.
Well, if you have kids, you know that that stuff sometimes works and sometimes it just doesn’t. But most of all, what really annoys me and my husband about it, is that it turns us into the kind of parents we really don’t want to be: Constantly watching the kids, constantly disappointed, finger-wagging, yelling, taking nice activities away, punishing etc.
Well, one morning after I had just dropped off the kids at school and felt exactly the way I just described, I took part in a Coaching-Webinar offered by the ICF as part of my ongoing professional development. Not that this seminar had the topic of “How to control your kids as a Coach” (wouldn’t that be awesome though :’)), but it just reminded me of all the different options I have on hand when facing complicated situations. And there I had it – my first lightbulb went on!
That afternoon, I got right to it. I asked my kids to have a Coaching Session with me and they rather sceptically agreed. To warm them up, I started with an exercise that is always fun and easy to do and described it according to our situation: I asked the kids to imagine the worst family ever and then to think of rules they would make for the worst family ever to follow to make their family life as miserable and awful as possible. They had no problems with that, believe me!
Once they had all the mean things out of their system like “ they all have to constantly bite/scratch/ kick/ swear/ fart”, they calmed down a bit and came out with some very personal issues. My oldest daughter thought that in the worst family ever everybody would always come into each other’s room and take and destroy all their personal stuff. Our son, the sandwich-child, figured that in the worst family ever everyone would always tell you that you are not able to do things or are really bad at it. And the youngest was typically very adamant that in the worst family ever they would always walk away from you and just leave you alone.
At this point, they all realized that this was important stuff and that it really meant something for them personally, so it wasn’t hard to get to the next step. The task that followed was to think of values or rules that we could use as our own so that none of that “worst-family-ever-stuff” happened to us. Every time we came up with a value, the kids were allowed to scratch out all the things on the first sheet that wouldn’t happen in the worst family ever if they stuck to that value. And once we had everything scratched out, we knew we were done with our list!
I asked them where they wanted to set it up and they decided on the top of the stairs so that they could see it walking by.
And to top it off: After our Coaching session the kids went outside to play. And they actually continued talking about our exercise and came up with another awesome idea all by themselves: they agreed on a gesture that they would make if they felt that things between them were going into the wrong direction. And that gesture would then help them to remember their list and stop going the wrong way. You can imagine I felt pretty good about myself as a Mum and a Coach when they told me :-))
Now I am not going to tell you that my kids have been little saints ever since then, but we had a really enjoyable Spring Break. The kids spent a lot of time playing together and were actually able to reflect on how much nicer that is at the end of the day.
And I came out of that experience once more thankful and excited and feeling blessed by how incredibly useful Coaching is even in everyday contexts as this. If something works for highly paid managers and for my kids in the same way, it has to be good! Try it out and feel free to contact me if you would like more info on how to use that exercise for your own family or company or team or____!