Nikki Giant, founder of Full Circle Education Solutions and JKP author, explains how life coaching can be used to help support children’s well-being and aid in difficult periods of stress and transition.
In any classroom within any school there are children struggling to cope with the daily rituals of life. These young people may be suffering torment from their peers, battling depression, striving to care for a parent at home, or perhaps may not even have a home to call their own.
With youth mental health problems on the rise, and suicide the highest cause of death for men and women aged 15 to 34 in England and Wales, and the third leading cause of death of youth in the US, it is evident that better emotional support needs to be provided to children and young people to help them prevent and effectively respond to life’s challenges. For youth who are largely happy and stable it is still crucial to build the social and emotional competencies they need to navigate life successfully, and the inner resources to manage future problems as they occur.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping vulnerable and challenging youth. For some, professional counselling is essential, while for other children, a formal therapeutic relationship is off-putting. In recent years, many schools and youth settings have adopted character education programmes, counselling services and peer support initiatives to help meet young people’s needs. Life coaching is one such form of effective support that couples behavioural change, emotional development and a supportive, mentoring relationship of trust that will be of benefit to all young people.
Life coaching is a well-established model, practiced worldwide in various forms to help people identify blocks in their lives, gain clarity about their future paths, and take action towards positive outcomes. Life coaches help people from all walks of life to improve their well-being or to address a specific issue that may be holding them back, and it is an excellent model to use with young people who need a listening ear and practical tools to overcome their problems.
The concept of using the life coaching model with youth is relatively unknown, and may be mistakenly associated with the idea of young children needing personal therapists and life coaches as a self-indulgent accessory for kids with rich parents. In reality, far from being a fashionable fad, coaching is a flexible and practical approach that can bridge the gap between informal support and therapeutic models.
Life coaches use practical, goal-oriented approaches to help people move from a position of disempowerment, confusion and stress to clarity and action. Life coaches help people to:
- Set realistic goals
- Create steps towards those goals
- Create a space or an environment in which changes can occur
When working with children and young people, coaching tools and techniques can help to build self-esteem, resilience, self-awareness, and crucially, coaching helps a young person to create their own toolkits of resources and strategies to use at any time. All young people can benefit from a strong mentoring relationship of trust, respect and support with a caring adult, which is the key role of a coach.
Life Coaching for Kids is a practical resource to help teachers, parents, therapists and youth workers to integrate the theory of life coaching within a grounding, supportive relationship, to help transition children and young people through periods of stress or anxiety. The coaching techniques and tools within Life Coaching for Kids includes over forty activities to empower and support youth to develop socially and emotionally, as well as to manage specific issues such as bullying, poor body image, or anxiety.
The stresses of modern day living are plentiful and are difficult for adults to negotiate; even more so for children and youth who lack the tools and awareness to know how to cope. There are no magic wands or quick fixes to improve the lives of troubled and vulnerable youth: empowering children to be successful, healthy and happy is an ongoing endeavour, of which coaching can be one piece of the support puzzle. Coaching techniques are simple to implement, practical and solution-focused, helping young people to understand the issues they face and most importantly, giving the reigns of problem-solving directly to youth, which builds lifelong competencies and self-awareness to empower and equip youth to not only overcome life’s challenges now, but also in the future as they occur.
Life Coaching for Kids: A Practical Manual to Coach Children and Young People to Success, Well-being and Fulfilment by Nikki Giant is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers and all good retailers, priced at £17.99. Nikki Giant is the founder and director of the social enterprise Full Circle Education Solutions, supporting schools and youth settings to improve the well-being of children and young people.