Harvard now offers a new course to incoming freshmen, which is basically a life coaching 101 course. Since so many new students at the prestigious university have spent their high school years overwhelmed by activities and homework, barely sleeping to make the grade, the university wants them to identify their core values, learn how to make choices in their daily lives that align to their values, and start managing their time as college students in a way that will support them to live their adult lives with balance rather than overwhelm, which has become their norm from an early age.
I believe, as a coach for modern parents, that parents are their child's life coach and that children need this type of values, time alignment and choice-making life coaching way before they head off to college. In fact, the way that parents reflect upon and answer the same big life questions about their core values, align their time and responsibility commitments to those values and their levels of stress are what really teach a child of any age the same kinds of lessons this class at Harvard hopes to impart.
Here are 5 ideas to help you be your child's life coach, to support them in living a life of balance, alignment and meaning:
1.) Create a Family Mission Statement with your partner in which you detail the core values you hope to impart in raising your family. When making decisions related to discipline, activities, community building, schooling, hard choices and limit setting, use this Family Mission Statement as a guide to help support clarity and alignment.
2.) Slow down and take time for reflection. If you question the job you're in, find yourself in a constant state of stress, reacting more often than responding, it's time to step off the rat wheel and examine your own life thoroughly. Making the changes we need in our own lives to decrease stress, increase connection, and be in integrity with who we are and what we really want from life are the best ways we can support and serve our kids to become the types of adults who can do this as well.
3.) Engage in the activities and interests that you truly love, for the sake of doing them and to experience joy. When is the last time you played an instrument? Spoke the foreign language you love? Played a game with friends? Made a piece of art or a new invention for the fun of it? Took a cooking class? Learned something new that truly engages your curiosity and desire to experience being alive? If you've sacrificed these elements of your own life, it will be hard to model to your children that joy, curiosity and love of learning are essentials to a life well lived. Get out that class catalogue and sign up today for a learning experience that will help bring you totally alive.
4.) Spend time with people who are positive, living lives that align to your values, and prioritize the same values, interests and curiosities that you do. If you find yourself around people who you don't truly resonate with, it's time to do some social reflection and focusing. Get out your Family Mission Statement and spend time reflecting on the people, experiences, traditions and social activities which really resonate with who you are and the family you most want to raise.
5.) Have weekly Family Meetings where in addition to discussing appreciations, celebrations, scheduling, problem solving, you share about your Family Mission Statement and the activities, choices, friends, experiences that each of you are engaging in that reflect your family's desired culture. You can plan activities and discuss questions together to help build your family culture to be one that is balanced, aligned, positive and inspiring: life coaching at its best!
Kiran Gaind is a life, leadership and parenting coach who owns The Connected Family (http://www.theconnectedfamily.net). Please drop her a line to comment on this article, ask questions, and share your ideas for bringing the art of life coaching into your daily parenting role. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 377-6791 to say hello and to schedule a completely complimentary Create Connection Conversation.