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Why I did parent coaching (and what I learned)

This blog is written a little differently: not by a play therapist, by a parent. My name is Sharlyn Francis and I’m the Marketing and Business Coordinator at Play Therapy Connection. Here is a breakdown of my experience with parent coaching and what I’ve learned along the way.

Why did I decide to do it?

The phrase “I don’t know what to do anymore” ran through my head over and over again as I faced toddler tantrums, upcoming milestones, and the eminent threat my daughter felt as a new baby was about to enter our home.

Raelyn, my 2-year-old, was acting out in ways I had never experienced before: looking straight into my eyes as she continued to disobey, smiling when I was trying to punish her, and generally not responsive to yelling, spankings, threats, etc. I was at a loss. I also wanted to address some upcoming milestones such as getting rid of her pacifier, potty training, and transitioning from a family of three to a family of four.

Enter my parent coach(es).

I have the distinct advantage of working with these amazing experts every day, so I received parent coaching from both Kelly Miller and Lauren Fishbein during different phases of my parenting journey. I met with Lauren via Zoom (an online video chat service – super easy to use) and Kelly via phone.

So, what have I learned?

Although both therapists have different experiences in play therapy, both are trained in Synergetic Play Therapy and I was getting similar, recurring messages from both coaches. I will go into specifics later but, generally, these were some of the takeaways: 

  • You can’t fight fire with fire: your child can feel your energy and sense the tension in the home (even if the tension is not with the child).
  • Words are important: narrate your feelings WHENEVER possible
  • Help your child identify his/her feelings using words (“Name it to tame it”) 

What does this look like for me vs. for you?

This is the part where I found it extremely helpful to talk to an expert instead of exclusively reading books, watching videos, etc. Throughout the week I took notes on the specific issues we were struggling with and we would go through the list and decide which issues should be addressed first. Some examples are:

  • Reducing dependence on the pacifier: Due to Raelyn’s birth trauma, we are working together to come up a with a specific plan on how to reduce her pacifier dependency and add other emotional regulating activities. Because the pacifier was the first regulatory item used during her time in the NICU, she is more attached to it than the normal child might be. Coming up with a unique plan for her makes sense.
  • Specific tricks for specific behaviors: For example, Raelyn wouldn’t stop jumping on the couch, my bed, her crib, etc. so Kelly suggested purchasing an indoor trampoline to give Raelyn a place to channel that energy. This virtually stopped the couch jumping issue because I had the words AND tools to handle her behavior.
  • Handling the transition of having a new baby sister: I felt much more prepared before during and after the transition with their support. This included holding off on potty training.
  • Parenting confidence: Weekly parent coaching sessions increased my confidence and consistency in parenting decisions and implementation. 
  • Peace at last: I can honestly say my house has become a more peaceful place now that my husband and I understand how to handle tantrums, behaviors and parenting situations unique (and not unique) to our daughter.

Would I recommend parent coaching with OR without play therapy? Absolutely. Nothing has impacted my parenting more and I intend to continue parent coaching for the foreseen future.

  • Sharlyn Francis

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Littleton, CO 80120

info@playtherapyconnection.com
720-638-6270

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