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  • Writer's pictureKirk Chugg

Embracing the Coach Approach: Shifting from Authoritarian to Supportive Parenting



In the realm of traditional parenting, the authoritarian style—characterized by strict rules, high expectations, and often, a lack of emotional warmth—has seen its fair share of days. However, research and personal experiences have slowly begun to shift the narrative towards what is often described as a 'coach approach' to parenting. This methodology trades the rigidity of rule enforcement for a more supportive role in which parents guide their children to learn and grow through their experiences.

As intentional parents striving to cultivate a nurturing and positive environment for your children, embracing this coaching paradigm can be incredibly powerful. Let's explore how shifting from an authoritarian demeanor to that of a coach can foster resilience, independence, and strong family relationships.

What Does it Mean to Parent like a Coach?

Coaching, in the context of parenting, is not vastly different from athletic coaching. A good coach doesn't play the game for their team but instead guides, encourages, and enables players to develop their skills, make decisions, and assess their performance constructively.

The Coach Approach Encourages:

  • Growth through challenges: Coaches see mistakes not as failures but as opportunities for growth. Parents can encourage the same attitude in kids when they face life's hurdles.

  • Developing problem-solving skills: Instead of imposing solutions, coaches help players analyze and overcome obstacles. Parents can teach children to navigate life's complexities by guiding them to find their answers.

  • Building emotional intelligence: Coaches are not devoid of emotion. Rather, they use emotional experiences as teaching moments. Parents can help their children understand and manage emotions effectively.

  • Fostering autonomy: Coaches prepare players to make their own decisions. As a parent, giving your child room to make choices builds independence and confidence.

The Downside to Being Too Authoritarian

Strict, authoritarian parenting can create a family dynamic where children may learn to follow rules but fail to develop the reasoning behind them. It can lead to a lack of decision-making skills, diminished self-esteem, and an environment where children may not feel comfortable expressing their thoughts or emotions openly.

Common consequences include:

  • Fear-based obedience: Children respond out of fear rather than understanding, which doesn't foster internal motivation.

  • Reduced problem-solving abilities: With decisions always made for them, children might struggle to think critically and solve problems on their own.

  • Emotional disconnect: Children might become distant or secretive, unsure how to communicate in a highly authoritative household.

How to Integrate the Coaching Style into Everyday Parenting

Start with Communication:

Engage in open dialogue with your children. Listen more than you speak, and validate their feelings, showing that their voice matters.

Set Collaborative Goals:

Work together with your children to set realistic goals and boundaries. This collaboration will give them a sense of ownership and motivation.

Provide Constructive Feedback:

When correcting behavior, approach it from a place of wanting to help them improve, not just pointing out what they've done wrong.

Encourage Self-Reflection:

After an incident or behavioral issue, discuss what happened, why it happened, and how different choices could lead to different outcomes.

Model Learning from Mistakes:

Children learn by example. Show them that everyone makes mistakes, including you, and that it's okay to be imperfect as long as you're learning.

Celebrate Effort as Much as Achievement:

Recognition shouldn't come only with success. Acknowledge the efforts your child puts in, regardless of the outcome.

Transitioning from an authoritarian parenting style to one of a coach is not an overnight change. It requires intention, patience, and consistency. However, as you begin this transformation, you'll likely notice a change not just in your child's behavior but in the overall emotional climate of your home.


In a fast-evolving world, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is the ability to adapt and learn from their environment. By acting more like a coach and less like an authoritarian, you equip your children with the tools to become resilient, thoughtful, and capable adults. Remember, while an authoritarian style dictates the path, a coaching style lights the way, empowering children to embark on their own journey with confidence and strength.

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