5 Strategies to Coach your Teenager

When children are younger, parents might take the role of a disciplinarian or an authoritative figure. However, as they transition to teenagers or even young adults, parents might find themselves at a loss on how to communicate with them because the authoritative style of parenting might not work anymore. Hence, parents might want to consider using a different approach – coaching!

According to the International Coaching Community (ICC, 2022, January 13), coaching is defined as the process of one individual working with another to help them improve their performance and reach their potential. Therefore, conversations using the coaching method can be used to help teenagers improve themselves and reach their potential. Most importantly, conversations using the coaching method would also help the teenagers build awareness within themselves which would help empower their own choices, leading to more positive outcomes.

These are 5 different characteristics of a coaching conversation that parents can use to effectively help their teenagers.

Observation When children enter adolescence, their way of thinking might change. Parents should use every opportunity to get to know their teenager again by observing their strengths and also what challenges the teenager is currently facing in order to see how they can support them.
Feedback This is the time to gather and share information, ideas, suggestions, and evidence. Parents should ask their teenager reflective questions first during conversations, and get informative feedback. Parents should also listen more and gather what the teenager knows, has tried and experienced. While the teenager shares their thoughts, feelings or experiences, parents should let the teenager know that they are listening by sharing affirmative feedback. For example, parents can employ active listening strategies such as not interrupting and nodding their head to show that they are listening to understand without judgment. Parents can also paraphrase when necessary especially when listening to their teenager and asking more open-ended questions. In addition to the other feedback, parents can also share evaluative feedback like ‘good!’ or ‘great!’ and follow up with a specific reason why they like certain things. Lastly, there is directive feedback which is typically associated with authoritative parenting and is generally not employed in a coaching conversation unless there is imminent danger. Parents should try to explore ways to reach out and connect with their teenager as much as possible to resolve any conflicts or challenges.
Reflection Reflection in coaching conversations is thinking about what else can be done. Parents need to support their teenager’s way of thinking and focus on guiding the teenager to brainstorm new ideas and solutions rather than deciding everything for them. At this stage, parents need to ask questions to guide in order to bring about a greater sense of awareness, better analysis as well as carve out alternatives or even action plans.
While parents can ask questions to guide their teenager to solve problems on their own, other times, it would also be beneficial to demonstrate what can be done in certain situations. For example, parents can roleplay with the teenager in order to practice different scenarios.
Joint Planning Parents should guide the conversation with the teenager to have a joint action plan towards the end of the coaching conversation. This is because when planning solutions together, the teenager will be more invested if the solution was something that they had contributed to. During the conversation with their teenager, parents should be asking questions to guide the teenager to think of solutions for the action plan. These questions might include ‘What are they planning to do?’, ‘When are they planning to do it?’ and ‘How are they planning to do it?’. In later conversations, parents and their teenager can then revisit the action plan that both of them had decided on and think about the next steps if the previous action plan did not go as planned.

In summary, it is important for parents to remember that teenagers are still growing and still need a guiding hand. I hope these tips would encourage parents to have good conversations with their teenagers and help guide their thinking process and the way forward.

Rosalyn Wee
Lead Educational Therapist
Curriculum Specialist (English Language and Literacy Division)
RETA Fellow

Learn more about Rosalyn!

International Coaching Community. (2022, January 13). What is coaching? https://internationalcoachingcommunity.com/what-is-coaching/