So many young adults come out of high school and head to college after years of being overwhelmed by activities, homework and barely sleeping to make the grade. Because of this, Harvard is now offering a new course to incoming freshmen. It’s pretty much life-coaching 101. The university wants them to identify their core values and learn how to make choices in their daily lives which align to their values. They want them to start managing their time as college students in a way that will support them to live their adult lives with balance rather than overwhelm.
I believe, however, that parents are their child's life coach, teaching them values, time alignment and choice-making from a very young age. In fact, the way that parents reflect upon and answer big life questions 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. Detail core values that 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 and find yourself in a constant state of stress, it's time to re-examine your own life thoroughly. Making the changes we need in our own lives to decrease stress, increase connection and live with integrity 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. Do this for the sake of experiencing 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. Spend time with those that 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. Get out your Family Mission Statement and spend time looking at the people, experiences, traditions and activities that really resonate with who you and your family.
5. Have weekly Family Meetings. Share appreciations, celebrations, scheduling and problem solving. Plan activities and discuss questions together to help build your family culture as 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. 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.