Coaching Teens in Life Lessons

What can life coaches offer our teenage girls?

Posted Mar 28, 2010

When it comes to outside help these days, it seems as if there are coaches and tutors to guide our children through every walk of life. So I was more than a bit skeptical when I heard from Tami Walsh, who launched a life-coaching business called Teenwisdom directed towards teenage girls. Her goal is to provide guidance to young women who are struggling with the common-girl worries, such as breakups, sex, drugs, and friendship issues, to name a few.

Why do girls need yet another person telling them what to do? According to Walsh, research has shown that teenagers who have at least three adult role models apart from their parents are significantly less likely to engage in risk-taking behavior. Some teens are lucky enough to have a great athletic coach or priest or rabbi to talk to. But not all.

The more I chatted with Walsh, the more I was convinced that perhaps she and others of her ilk may be offering a special service.

Here's what Walsh had to say, that convinced even me---a diehard skeptic: "I knew that life coaching was a perfect parallel for what adolescents need as they go from one portal of their life to another. Life coaching was the perfect puzzle piece."

She calls herself a child advocate but also works with parents, who meet with her periodically, to teach them how to communicate with their sometimes less-than-communicative daughters.

"I see life coaching as an augmentation to that whole ‘it takes a village' not a replacement, but a reinforcement," for parents, said Walsh. She believes most problems teenagers face boil down to issues of identify and independence.

She said that most parents when faced with teen battles resort to the role of teacher when it should be more of an advisor. Walsh, who is based in San Diego, California, runs seminars to train more coaches and hopes to scatter her disciples throughout the America. She also trains her coaches to detect what may be signs of serious illnesses, such as depression or eating disorders, so those girls can be advised to seek help elsewhere. The Teenwisdom coaches are not doctors or therapists but are adults offering extra support to girls in need. And help, also, to mothers who are trying to navigate-all over again-the murky waters of female adolescence and trying to instill self-confidence and self-esteem in their daughters.

One piece of advice: unlike a licensed professional, anyone can call themselves a coach. Before you send your daughter to an outsider for advice, check their credentials, check out how they trained. And most importantly, as in any therapeutic relationship, make sure your daughter feels a bond with the therapist. If she is not going to talk, there is no communication. Teenwisdom sounds like a smart outlet for some young women in need and for mothers in need of advice too.