More Parent Coaches Helping Families Through Changing Times The Buzz


It's tough to be a parent these days. More parents looking for help with big parenting issues are calling in a parenting coach for direction.

Terry Carson works as a parent coach. She teaches parents how to handle most parenting issues.

At times, Carson offers parents concrete advice. At other times, she teaches parents how to coach themselves through situations as they happen, so that parenting is easier and more effective. In other words, she gives them the tools to handle a parenting problem.

Carson says that parent coaching can help parents with a variety of issues, such as kids' whining, interrupting, sleeping problems, not listening, power struggles, lying and breaking the rules, as well as the parent-child relationship, consistency and other issues. Most parents run into some of these issues at one time or another!

Some parent coaches specialize in particular issues, such as sports, sleeping, divorced families or drug and alcohol addictions. Other parent coaches find their niche in working with parents of children in a particular age group, such as preschoolers or teenagers.

Coaching is a growing field

Parent coaching is a growing career area. What's behind that growth? The International Coach Federation (ICF) says that the demand for all kinds of coaching for personal and business growth has increased significantly for many reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the world has changed tremendously, and coaching can help individuals adapt to change.

Carson is a certified parent coach through ICF. Parent coaches should have credentials, such as those available through ICF, to work with credibility in the field, she says.

Through her business, The Parenting Coach, Carson has discovered that many parents want to raise their children differently than they were raised. In addition, kids today have more freedom than ever before and they face some different challenges than their parents did. Coaching helps parents and kids find a fit that works in today's world, Carson says.

Norma Ross is a parent coach based in Florida. She says many of these societal changes have come through the media and technology.

"Given how our society has changed in terms of exposure through the media and Internet, parents have more to deal with than ever before," Ross says.

"What used to work when we were growing up, in terms of parenting, may not apply now... The world has changed dramatically and rapidly. Our society is more intense, busier than ever and the demands of childrearing have grown."

Qualifications for parent coaching

Carson says that her seven-year career in coaching evolved after working as an elementary school teacher and in a family business. She also earned a master's degree in change management. Her biggest qualification, she says, is that she's the mother of four children.

"This has been my most fulfilling career, as a parent coach," Carson says. "My family is the most important aspect of my life. Being able to take my experiences as a mother and help other parents, and earn from it financially, is a dream come true."

Those interested in being parenting coaches should learn about children's developmental stages. Know what's appropriate for each age and how children grow and learn, Carson says.

Ross holds licenses and certifications as a psychoanalyst and mental health counselor. While there are no licenses for parenting coaches, it may be helpful for a parent coach to have degrees for one of the following careers: mental health counselor, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist or psychologist. These are the four main areas covered by most states currently, Ross says.

"These professionals have all met certain standards educationally in a number of areas, including development and pathology, and clinically," Ross explains. "This does not mean you cannot excel in this field otherwise, but for consumers it might help to look for qualifications."

Many parent coaches have "evolved" into this line of work, Ross says. "The coaching itself is not a new career for me as much as taking my practice in a new direction," she says. "Therapists in general have long been 'coaches' in one form or another, but in today's age, some people think of therapy as a negative."

Ross points out that many people are more comfortable with the word "coaching."

The best qualification you can have is to be a parent yourself, according to those in the field.

Derek Randel has been a parent coach for five years. As a coach, he draws on his 12 years of experience as an educator in Illinois and Michigan. He has also coached numerous team sports and is known as a national speaker on parenting and bullying.

Being a good listener is also helpful for parent coaching, says Randel. He helps parents learn different techniques and skills to communicate more effectively with their children.

Patience, empathy and experience will help you as a parent coach, Ross says. "I received tons of hours in clinical settings and supervision as well," she continues. "Coupled with being a parent of two children, and a single one for their latter teen years, I know what parents go through."

Challenges of coaching

Keeping up with parenting trends and parenting methodology is an important and challenging part of Carson's work as a coach.

"You need to understand that there's not just one parenting method," she says. "I help the client find the right method for him or her."

Ross echoes Carson's comments. She adds that keeping up on all of the latest information on drugs, alcohol, learning issues and eating disorders -- just to name a few -- can be challenging.

"The challenges for the coach are to be well-read, have a strong background in child development and to help parents deal with issues before they become bigger problems," Ross says. "Coaches need to continue to learn and study as the world of kids changes."

It's also important to be familiar with the media children are exposed to on a daily basis.

"Parents need to feel empowered, and a coach can do this if they understand the influence of peers and media," Ross says. "To be effective, one has to be comfortable giving directions to the parent, knowing the resources available, and constantly working with others as a team."

Marketing your business

Most parent coaches would agree that word of mouth is usually the best form of advertising in this career; however, getting out there and being visible is also extremely important.

Carson says most parent coaches work independently. They must build their business like any other. She recommends creating a business plan and working with consultants to build up your practice.

Carson runs a website, gives live presentations, writes articles, has her own audio CD (CDs are handy because busy parents don't have a lot of time to read, she says), and offers workshops on parenting topics. She does the majority of her coaching over the telephone. With this flexibility via the telephone, she works with clients throughout Canada, the United States and other parts of the world.

Randel is frequently out in the community giving talks, interviews and networking. He also has a website and newsletter.

Links

International Coach Federation (ICI)
Information on parent coaching and certification

The Parent Coaching Institute
Find out about training

The Parenting Coach
Information on parent coaching, careers, classes