Father as solution coach - do you have the skills?


NOW that we have laid the three foundations and three basic principles on coaching our teens, we will now proceed to discuss the actual skills for the coaching process itself. The paradigm shift for fathers in coaching our teens is to focus on solutions and not problems. The reason for this shift is that most of the time, the solution is not found in the problems. It is found outside the problem.


"Blame-storm" can lead to rifts

The shift is not easy. We have the tendency to look for problems and to describe situations in problem-focused ways. “What’s wrong with you?” or “Tell me your problems”; are examples of problem-focused ways we often use to begin a conversation. This is called problem talk.

When discussing a problem situation with your teens, avoid blame-storming. Hurling one blame after another for any misdeeds that your teens might have committed demoralizes them and creates a storm that builds a wall between both of you. Such problem talk hinders efforts to reach the preferred solution.


Need for paradigm shift to make "solution talk"

We need to shift the conversations from ‘problem-focused’ to ‘solution-focused’. Solution talk emphasizes on what you want not what you do not want.

Consider this: When you are upset with your teenagers for not returning home on time as promised, do you ‘blame-storm’ them for their mistakes or brainstorm for solutions to the preferred goal of coming back at a satisfactory time. Which is more helpful?

The same applies when our teens consult us with their problems. As coach we need to help our teens turn problems into goals so that they can look for solutions to the preferred future. One very helpful question to ask your teens and set them on the right path of reaching their desired solution is: What do you want instead? Once your teens are clear on what they want, they will see beyond the problem and work towards their goals.


Know to avoid "problem talk"

So how can fathers as coach avoid problem talk and initiate solution talk with their teens? To begin let's understand the ways we usually lapse into problem talk.

  • Some words tend to be problematic in our conversation with teens. ‘You always’ is a phrase that will get us into a hot spot with our tweens, teens or anyone for that matter. When someone claims you always commit a particular error, it puts you on the defensive. The reason is that while we sometimes commit the error, we do not do it all the time. Sometimes we do get it right! Focusing on the error and generalizing it is problem talk.
  • ‘It’s your fault’ is another problem talk. We all know that problems usually have different contributing factors. To completely lay it on one person is fault finding and results in anger building. It also shifts the responsibility to the person. Accusatory words like ‘you are the cause of our troubles’ have similar effect.
  • Another problematic way which we deal with our teens is the use of punishing silence. "I’m tired of talking to you. It’s not getting into your head." Such an approach will create an impasse in your relationship with your child, blocking the path to solutions.

Note: This article is part of a series first broadcast on 'Parenting Today' 93.8FM. A Certified Solution Focus Therapist, writer Edwin Choy is co-founder and director of the Centre for Fathering. He would like to hear your personal experiences in coaching your teens to help him improve his training workshop for fathers on coaching. Please email him at edwin@fathers.com.sg


What's happening at Centre for Fathering (CFF)
  • Father-Child Bonding Camp (June 4 - 5, 2010)

Our June Camp is open for registration now. Encounter the bonding experience of a lifetime to build a strong connection and relationship with your child.

  • Father-Teen Trekking Expedition (May 27 - 30, 2010)

Embark on an exciting trekking expedition amongst the mountains of Cameron Highlands. The Father-child pair will take on Bukit Irau and find a time of mutual encouragement and a priceless bonding moment. The element of an adventure with one another will be a shared experience of a lifetime. Look out for more details next week.

  • Vacancy for a full time 'Counselling & Family Life Educator'

The CFF is looking to fill this position. Please refer to NCSS (National Council of Social Services) website, under 'Career' for the full details.

  • CFF celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year

The CFF is grateful for your support in their movement to promote and enhance the role fathers play in their family and it is looking to expand its reach to meet more people that believe in getting fathers more involved in their children’s life. The CFF has evolved over the years and have found the obvious truth that the majority of fathers are at their workplaces. The CFF is thus calling its readers and well-wishers to highlight its services, target its website to their contacts or forward this webpage to them. CFF staff are more than willing to make a trip to your company to present its services if needed.


Click here for other articles on "Fathering Matters".


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