Texting, facebook, TV, video games—today’s teens spend up to nine hours a day connected to screens (Commonsense Media). Busy and exhausted, too many moms and dads miss their children, the innocent young faces replaced by sullen automatons, too busy texting and clicking to connect with their parents or themselves.
“Many parents see the child as the problem,” says Gloria DeGaetano, founder and CEO of the Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) (www.thepci.org) in Seattle, explaining how families get locked into a power struggle. “It becomes a control issue when the child, especially the teen, pushes back from the parents” and the frustrated parent “keeps on pushing.”
DeGaetano, who founded the PCI in response to the Columbine tragedy in 1999, sees parent coaching as a way to help parents break through the power struggle, reclaim their parenting identity (DeGaetano, 2004), and “bring the three dimensional life back” to their families. The challenge, she says, “is for parents to make life as fulfilling as a video game”--no easy task when games and Internet sites are designed to activate our brain’s reward centers, providing instant gratification and the desire for constant stimulation.
PCI coaches, trained through DeGaetano’s Parent Coach Certification® Program, help parents understand their child’s developing brain, promoting self-regulation and meta-level thinking. Three key strategies are:
With a change in perspective, parents can stop focusing on “the problem,” and focus instead on their child’s unique talents, desires, ongoing development, and the nurturing bond of love that connects them. Then screens and digital devices can be used in the service of a fulfilling life and the entire family flourishes.
CommonSense Media Survey https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens
Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
DeGaetano, G. (2004). Parenting Well in a Media Age. Fawnskin, CA: Personhood Press.
DeGaetano, G. Personal communication, February 17, 2016.
Parent Coaching Institute. Many teachers, therapists, and school counselors have become parent coaches. For more information on working with a coach or becoming one yourself, see www.ThePCI.org or http://www.parentcoachinginternational.com.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.
Whitney, D. and Trosten-Bloom, A. (2003). The Power of Appreciative Inquiry. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.
Diane Dreher is a best-selling author, positive psychology coach, and professor at Santa Clara University. Her latest book is Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling.
Visit her web sites at http://www.northstarpersonalcoaching.com/