Parent Coaching Defined and Described

As a parent coach and former school psychologist, I provide personalized parent education to parents whose children have issues with behavior. Rather than doing therapy, where the parent needs a diagnosis to get help, I teach him or her (or both, ideally) specific techniques for bringing out the best in children. What I do falls under the category of education, which is highly effective especially with dads, who are more open to talk to a coach than to a "shrink." Parents are so often willing to do whatever it takes to end the negativity in their homes, that they are very open to Present Moment Parenting, featuring The Nurtured Heart Approach.

The basics of the approach are that giving emotional energy to wanted behavior is much more effective than what most people know: giving energy to unwanted behavior. I teach parents how to turn the usual techniques upside down, giving heartfelt appreciation to the positives, using the phrase "When you ... I feel ... because ... " to add impact to the input to the child. (It works a lot better than, "Good job.") And I give them specific ways to handle negativity, as well, with family meetings at the core of the process. Children are included in the decision-making and the creation of rules. Everything is laid out in advance. There is no punishment, but an energy-free, rehearsed-in-advance "break" for negativity. For large infractions, I incorporate restorative justice. Since the process is established in advance, and the child knows exactly what will happen, the likelihood of compliance increases dramatically.

My work is based on Howard Glasser's Nurtured Heart Approach, Dr. Daniel Siegel's work on the Mindful Brain, and my own experience with using the present moment for optimal relationship building. I help parents lay down their fears long enough to get in touch with the love and caring they truly feel underneath, and that often gets lost when behaviors turn negative. I teach parents that children are individuating, and that the parents' job is to support the individuation, rather than fight it. Once they learn there's alternative to controlling through anger and yelling, they are on a straight path to releasing the best in their kids and themselves.

As for what I see when I use these techniques: dramatic turnarounds, and quick ones. Just yesterday I had a mom in my office whose formerly sullen, nasty, defiant 15-year-old daughter is now affectionate and playful with her mom. And what the mom did was shift her emphasis to her daughter's positive actions and traits, and downplay the negativity. With insight into her daughter's actions, the mom was able to clearly see where the negativity was coming from, and simply let go of the struggle in order to start bringing the positives forward. This was after 2 coaching sessions with the mom.

I rarely meet the children, as I find it's more effective to keep the authority in the hands of the parents. I coach them from behind the scenes, and they come back and report the findings. I then coach them again until they can "take the reins" themselves. Often the children have no idea their parents are seeking help. Things just get better. It's a beautiful model, as it frees the parent to simply act ... no denigrating diagnosis, no blame, just a new way of being with their children. And this all happens in private, so the parents are free to tell me what the issues are, so I can help them with specific situations (as opposed to being in a parenting class, where parents might feel judged for the questions they ask.)

The first appointment is an hour-and-a-half, and $125 (parents have time to tell me their whole story, and then I leave them with techniques to use right away.) Subsequent appointments are an hour, and $95. I usually see people for 4 sessions minimum, every other week, and they decide after that how many times they want to return.

Please let me know if you have further questions. I also do a great deal of speaking to staffs, school personnel, parents, and others who deal with kids.

Please feel to visit my web site,, for further information. I did a Supernanny segment for KARE 11 TV, which is on the home page, if you'd like to watch the video. It's pretty fun.

Author's Bio: 

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. coaches parents in St. Paul, MN, and by phone from all over the English speaking world. She is the author of "The Pocket Parent Coach: Your Two-Week Guide to a Dramatically Improved Life With Your Intense Child", which comes with a 60-Minute CD! You can reach Tina at 651-453-0123 or by writing