Nowadays, it can be quite challenging being a child or a parent
Most parents have their hands full, balancing work and family life the best way they can. Whether it is online or offline, the majority of kids are dealing with too much input, alongside trying to keep up with the growing demands schools are insisting on, due to the inspections* the institutions have to go through annually. Understandingly, these circumstances may at times lead to a need for extra support. However, more than ever, the emphasis in help being offered to children and their families is laid on problems, diagnoses and medication. In the event that you may be looking for a solution oriented and holistic approach to support, my coaching provides this.
* Concerning school inspection, different laws apply to public (mostly Dutch) schools and private (mostly international) schools.
Child coaching (age 4 – 18)
Providing support by offering practical tools, new insights and by identifying your child’s strengths.
Mapping your child’s needs is an important part of the coaching: in the current situation, what does he or she need to function happily and well at home, at school and/or with peers? Concurrently, much emphasis is laid upon all of your child’s strengths: what is he or she already (very) good at and how can we use this as support when tackling the more challenging situations he or she faces? These challenging situations, which can make a child feel overwhelmed, will be structured, helpful thoughts will be introduced and practical tools will be incorporated in the process. At all times, the above will be conducted taking into consideration the age and level of development the child has reached.
The most common topics in child coaching regard how to pleasantly interact with peers and siblings, to feel less anxious, angry and/or stressed, to focus and listen better and to improve self-esteem. In addition, to learn how to deal with complex situations like the divorce of ones parents or the loss of a loved one, are matters, which can equally be addressed.
Due to the international environment which Third Culture Kids grow up in, they can at times experience confusing thoughts regarding their identity and/or feelings of grief because of having to say goodbye to many friends along their journey. Often, them too can use a bit of extra support in dealing with this.
To bring about conscious parenting, whereby positive reinforcement and modeling of desirable behaviors are accentuated.
Parent coaching often supports the individual child coaching. By not being aware of certain processes, you can unintentionally sustain certain behaviors your child displays, for example by giving more attention to rather undesirable than desirable behavior. Gaining more insight into the workings of these processes and becoming aware of how and when to use them or not, increases the success rate of child coaching. Synchronously, your parental strengths will be discussed, and if necessary and desirable, you will learn how to diversely expand these. When you have multiple children, parent coaching usually benefits all of them.
In the beginning, many parents are afraid of being judged. Most mention they ‘probably do a lot of things wrong’. However, the fact that you are willing to consider parent coaching by applying for it, already says a lot about your motivation and level of involvement. Besides, you will be surprised of all the things you are already doing (very) well!
Topics being discussed include the ratio between positive and negative reinforcement of your child’s behavior, being consistent, modeling of desirable behavior, along with eat, sleep, and internet habits.
Sometimes it can be beneficial to discuss certain aspects of the relationship with your partner. In case of actual relationship problems, depending on the level, these can be dealt with within the parent coaching process. On some occasions however, it is advisable to attend couples counseling elsewhere, before starting with parent coaching.
Collaboration with third parties
Streamlining the support that is being offered to your child, as well as laying emphasis on his or her strengths and ways in which these can be addressed in and out of school.
Often it is beneficial to share the advice from coaching with your child’s teacher and/or learning support coordinator. They, in turn, can also provide very valuable information on how your child is performing at school (often more general information about school performance is taken into account during the mapping of the current situation, see: work method). In case this is applicable, the same goes for the staff in charge of after school activities in which your child is involved.
The exchange of information can be about adjusting current rules or making new ones, along with rewards and/or consequences. Despite the fact that the approach at home and outside the home doesn’t have to be exactly the same, it is often helpful for a child to experience predictability, especially when a behavioral change is desired.
In addition, advice can be shared on how to offer extra support in areas within which your child faces difficulty. Also, suggestions on how to address your child’s strengths can be provided.
This collaboration makes the support all-rounded, often causing the improvements to be (and stay) visible at home as well as outside the home.
Note that the collaboration with third parties only occurs after receiving a signed consent form from you as parents, allowing me to exchange information with the third party or parties involved.
What Time To Talk does not offer
The services described below are not being offered by Time to Talk. I’d gladly help you find suitable support regarding them. If you would like to, please feel free to contact me via the contact form, by email or by phone.
What is not being offered as a service, is conducting psychological research, whereby the hypothesis consists of one or multiple disorders (like ADHD, Autism and/or Anxiety disorder) potentially playing a role in the challenges your child is facing.
In case your child has been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders and you are looking for psychological treatment for your child, it is advisable to apply for treatment at a practice or organization being able to provide you with a multidisciplinary team.
An all-rounded approach
When a child experiences difficulty in one or multiple areas, often only the child is being taken into account. During this, frequently, only the ‘problem areas’ or ‘weaknesses’ are being looked into. Nowadays, a diagnosis is given rather sooner than later, commonly followed by the prescription of medication*. This is as remarkable as it is worrisome. Taking into consideration the context in which a child grows up, helps in understanding what causes their needs. Furthermore, all children have their strengths and it is not the symptoms that are portrayed by a child, but the core of the difficulty he or she is experiencing, that is to be solved.
Mapping the situation
The focus of my coaching initially lies upon mapping which factors could play or have played a role in regards to attaining the current situation faced by your child and/or you as parents. Whilst doing this, equal importance is placed upon the more helpful factors. This is being done at an individual child level as well as an environmental level.
This process usually takes place in two phases. After the first global phase (getting acquainted/non-binding intake), a coaching plan is made. Often, goals for your child as well as for you as parents are developed. After the coaching trajectory has officially begun, usually, a second, more in depth phase occurs. This can lead to additional goals being created.
In both child and parent coaching, a combination of elements from cognitive behavior therapy (whereby unhelpful thoughts can be replaced by helpful thoughts and unhelpful behavior can be replaced by helpful behavior), the practice of mindfulness (whereby living in the moment leads to a more peaceful and confident existence) and integrative nutrition (since there is such a strong link between nutrition and state of mind) are being used. Underlying factors, that create and sustain certain behaviors, and actions, that are unconsciously being conducted, will be revealed. Subsequently, customized practical tools and advice will be offered on how to change these into what is desired.
Streamlining the support
Besides child and parent coaching, and only with your signed consent, often a collaboration with school and/or after school facilities occurs. This way, the teachers and/or staff are able to use potential new insights through which your child will receive the support he or she needs. Moreover, by sharing this information, the teachers and/or staff will get to know more about your child’s strengths, as well of how to use and promote these in class and/or after school.
Coaching at home
With the exception of meetings with third parties (like school or after school facilities), the coaching sessions take place within the family home. Your child can continue doing his or her homework straight after a coaching session. You, as parents, can be coached just after your children have gone to school or when they lie in bed.
Besides the practical advantages to the above, by seeing your child and/or you as parents in your day-to-day environment, I am provided with an extensive source of information. This enables me to better understand the situation faced by your child and/or you. Furthermore, my experience has taught me that most families feel far more at ease at home. As a result, difficult subjects can be discussed more easily.
By gathering more information in less time, I can get to the cause of the difficulty being faced in a highly efficient manner. In addition to the above, the efficiency in which the ‘transfer’ of the knowledge and insights the child and/or his or her parents are given, is greatly enhanced. Indeed, this is because it is provided to them in the exact same situation they must learn to display it in. Consequently, this also leads to increased desirable behaviors in the school environment. Interim evaluations are conducted to keep track of the progress being made.
Due to my personal and work-related connections with expats, I understand the additional challenges and difficulties these families can sometimes face.
* Note. Diagnosing and prescribing medication can certainly have a positive effect on the development of a child (and by that, often also on his or her environment). What seems to be unhelpful to children as well as their parents however, is the ‘overdiagnosing’ and ‘overmedicating’ that nowadays seems to be taking place more and more often.