Important skills to develop in your children

Always good to question why

Recently I listened to Mariella Frostrup on Radio 4 debating the virtues of developing critical thinking in our children (Bringing up the Nation 10th July). It got me thinking about coaching skills and how these could translate into helping our young people communicate their ideas cogently and discern whether what it is they are hearing is fact or opinion.

Being able to challenge and helping them participate more and having the confidence in their own judgements means we as parents, carers and teachers have a duty to encourage our teenagers to open up.

“Easier said than done,” I hear you cry!

Okay – pick an opportunity when it will be difficult for the youngster to escape – a car journey for example…… Tune the radio onto radio 1 and listen to the news items together and ask them what their opinions are about a particular item (the more contentious the better).

Chances are they will give you fairly short answers and so ask them to expand (the aim is to get them to develop their arguments, so please respect their opinion and be curious about how they have arrived at that judgement). Ask them if they can judge what they have just heard is fact or opinion. Share some thoughts and opinions of your own, and don’t forget those who, what, where, when and why questions, whilst suspending your own judgement!

SAPERE (Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education) are so passionate about developing critical thinking skills in children they go into primary schools with their programme: P4C (Philosophy for Children). Their aim is to encourage the ‘why’ questions; it’s quite something to hear 7 year olds question themselves, their peers and to form their own opinions, but let’s face it we condition this out of them from an early age!

We are all bombarded with messages on social media and it can be a challenge as an adult to control these stories and narratives and to spot a good argument. We need to prepare the next generation to form good habits because as Aristotle said: “Good habits formed in youth make all the difference”.

The conclusions drawn during the debate with Mariella Frostrup were, to be able to challenge and participate more helps you feel more connected. Having confidence in your own judgements develops resilience and reduces anxiety. They’re important skills to have to thrive in today’s society.

Let’s all make an effort to help our children feel heard by encouraging them to ask why!

Coaching for Teenagers – it beats arguing with them …!

Life is hard

I think it was Quentin Crisp who once said: “The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another!”

It could be said that teenagers are the most misunderstood people on the planet. We often treat them like children and expect them to behave like adults.

As parents, we tend to ‘tell’ or impose our ideas on our children and we then wonder why our teenagers do their own thing; when what we actually want them to do is grow, learn and be the best they can be. Let’s face it how many of us like being told what to do; why should our teenagers be any different?

I have been an executive coach (sometimes called ‘life coaching’) for over 7 years; I see how coaching can help adults be the best they can be, particularly as it starts with the premise that the brain with the problem also has the solution – it just needs time to solve it.

I can remember using coaching techniques with my own teenagers and once you get past the rolling of the eyes and that withering look (that says you know nothing, and they’re right you don’t know anything about this particular issue), try asking them to expand on something they have just said with ‘tell me a bit more’. Then continue to use all those lovely open ended questions to encourage them to open up to you; finally saying to them okay what might you do to try to solve whatever it is they are grappling with. You might not get there on the first attempt (after all Rome wasn’t built in a day) but give it a go and remember to use why with caution.  Why? Well it can sound judgmental and we don’t want to go back to you telling your teenager …

If you are interested to know more about what I offer teenagers between 15 and 19 then check out my website and if you’ve got a teenager that is a bit stuck who may benefit from some professional coaching I’m starting a coaching programme in the holidays:

4-6pm every Friday starting on 28th July until 25th August


10-12 every Saturday morning from 29th July until 26th August

Both programmes will be held at The Old Fire Station, Salt Lane, Salisbury. SP1 1DU.

If you are interested in our coaching for teenagers programmes, please get in touch with Janine on 01722 331014 or 07768 206424.