What is a parenting coach? Why are they becoming so increasingly popular. Not only does Parenting Coach Alison Smith help parents, but she also strengthens families. The Baby Spot interviewed this amazing women who is helping parents, help their families.
Tell us how you became inspired to teach others to make the shift from a traditional approach of parenting to one of guidance, respect and a lasting connection.
I have always held the belief that respect for children should be the foundation of our interactions with them. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized the depth of the challenge. So much comes up for us as we parent—conflicting advice, beliefs about ourselves, emotions that are triggered by our child’s behaviour and more. Plus, we are trying to be at our best when we are often feeling the most tired, overwhelmed and depleted! The reality of parenting from this position of unconditional respect required me to find more respectful strategies than what the status quo was presenting. When I realized how hard it was to find realistic and evidence-based techniques, I began to realize my mission. I see other parents struggling to raise their kids with techniques that actually make it harder. I see how empowered we are when we feel heard and respected. When I imagine what our world would be like if every child were raised with unconditional respect, I cannot help but feel inspired. My own journey to find a better way has led me to where I am today.
Why do parents feel that they have to defend their guiding/connecting way of parenting to their traditional parenting peers?
Great question. There are many possible reasons. I believe that when anyone is challenging the status quo of a particular community, they are met with resistance. It is human nature to seek sameness and to be included. However, it is only through change, that we progress as a society.
On a personal level, many parents (regardless of philosophy) are questioning whether they are doing a good job, so when they see others using traditional methods, they may wonder if everyone around them is right and they themselves are in error. This parent may be explaining their stance in an effort to convince themselves of their reasons, more than convincing the other person. Or if the parent is feeling judged, they may want to defend their parenting practices. In many cases, however, the gentle parent is so excited to have discovered a way of parenting which connects with their child and meshes with their intuition so powerfully, that they want to tell everyone they meet! In my experience, most gentle parents are well-intentioned and are genuinely hoping to teach and share.
Tell us about the Gentle Parenting Manifesto.
It feels like I have a book in me, waiting to be written, which I will definitely be doing at some point. The Gentle Parenting Manifesto is really the first chapter of my book. It is a great place for parents to start when they want to make changes in their family. In the manifesto, I share the building blocks of the gentle parenting philosophy. This includes the three tenets of gentle parenting, which are empathy, connection and empowerment. By using these three concepts throughout our interactions with our children, we build a solid foundation, not just for our relationship with our kids, but for them to move forward into the world as respectful, healthy adults, capable of solving problems and caring for those around them.
What would parents learn from one of your workshops?
In my workshops, I share a combination of three things: my philosophy of childcare, specific strategies for parents to add to their “tool kits” and some coaching. Parents discover more about what gentle parenting is and is not, for example. They learn concrete language to use that is more respectful and gets better results. Participants begin to build a concrete action plan for moving forward in their own families. And they are offered the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback. This is where the coaching comes in. So often what happens when we are interacting with our kids is actually more about us than them. When we can reflect on what triggers us or how our reactions are fueling the results we don’t like, then tremendous change can occur. Our children’s behaviour changes like magic. We pack a lot into workshops.
What is a parent strategy session?
A parent strategy session is a jam-packed, one-hour private coaching session. Parents arrive with a specific concern or problem, such as bedtime battles, too much yelling, trouble setting boundaries, etc. Through teaching and the coaching process, they learn to apply gentle parenting practices to their unique family situation. Each parent leaves with an action plan for the parenting concern they have presented. These sessions are best used when a parent needs support with a particular aspect of parenting. For those wanting to make a bigger shift in their parenting style or have some healing to do for themselves or within the relationship with their older child, I recommend a coaching program or parenting circle.
Can parents from around the world use your services or order your parenting guides?
Definitely! Coaching, parent groups and workshops are all available online via Skype, Google Hangouts or by phone. For those who want to work independently, at their own pace, I have a number of parenting guides, such as the Gentle Parenting Manifesto available for purchase online, as well as a series of video and audios called The GPS (Gentle Parenting Strategies) Guides on a variety of topics. We all wish our baby came with a manual, but since she didn’t, we can use the GPS. 😉