“I feel that a great coach is one that has a vision, sets a plan in place, has the right people in place to execute that plan and then accepts the responsibility if that plan is not carried out.”
– Mike Singletary, Former Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers
You know who else had a vision? Erika Katz. Who is she? Well, she’s only an extremely well-respected parenting expert who has been featured on The Today Show, Fox News, and Access Hollywood, just to name a few. She is a mother of two, the spokesperson for Invisalign, and a regular contributor to the New York Post, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, and many more magazines, blogs, and websites. She authored the Bonding over Beauty parenting book series that teaches mothers how to bond with their tween daughters and successfully navigate through sensitive topics.
Katz’s latest venture is her new book, Coach Parenting: Raising Teenagers with Advice from Pro Football’s Greatest Head Coaches. I am absolutely enthralled and obsessed with it. This book enables parents to define and take ownership of their parenting style. It encourages parents to “parent like a coach”, and supports that contention with personal experience and ridiculously intelligent advice from some of Pro Football’s greatest head coaches.
Although I don’t know much about the game of football, I do know a thing or two about parenting. What Erika Katz has done for her readers is provide us with a playbook on how to be the best darn parent we can be, and how to successfully raise motivated and respectful children who have strong character. Though her book is immensely useful for raising teenagers, it has certainly made more of an impact on me, a mother who is raising young children (ages 6 and under), than I expected. No matter the age of your children, this book is a necessity. Honestly, if you want the opinion from a self-help parenting book junkie like me, this one’s a MUST for your bookshelf.
I was fortunate enough to chat with Erika and had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about Coach Parenting. She provided me with some great insight into her inspiration for the book, and details on her unique and effective parenting style.
Below is our interview…
What led you to the concept of correlating parenting to coaching as the premise of your new book, COACH PARENTING?
(excerpt from the book)
My son had just turned fourteen. I walked into the den and saw a pair of sneakers on the floor at the foot of the couch. I said, “Honey, before you go out, can you please put your shoes in your closet?” (His room is about ten feet from the den, so I was not asking him to climb stairs or exert himself.) A day later, I asked again, “Sweetie, will you please put your shoes in your closet?” Another day went by, and those smelly sneakers were still there! I marched into his room and sternly said, “If your sneakers are not picked up in five minutes, I am throwing them in the garbage.”
He looked at me in disbelief and said, “Fine.” At a snail’s pace, he picked up his shoes and tossed them into his room. Not exactly the “Yes, Mom, I’ll put them neatly in the closet” that I had hoped for.
A week later, after the second half of his varsity basketball game, his coach asked him to pick up his sneakers, and the sneakers of four other players.
I turned to the coach and said, “How did you do that? It takes me three days to get him to pick up one pair of sneakers!”
His coach laughed and said, “You just gotta be firm from the get-go and let him know you mean business.” At that moment, it dawned on me. I had to stop parenting like a mom and start parenting like a coach!
Did you play sports as a child? If so, was there a specific coach that made an impact on you?
No, I was a dancer as a kid and never played team sports. So, the world of coaching was really new to me.
How would you describe your parents’ parenting style?
They were always my biggest cheerleaders and made me believe I could do whatever I set my mind to. But, they were also honest and did not give me false hope or misrepresent where I had talent and where I did not. So, I always trusted them when they believed in one of my projects. I know my mother would never tell me it was a good idea if she believed it was not.
What are the cornerstones of COACH PARENTING?
- Build character in my kids
- Motivate them to be their best
- Be consistent in my dealings with them
- Hold them accountable for their actions
- Command their respect
How old were your kids when you began to implement COACH PARENTING within your own home? Also, do you believe there is a minimum age at which COACH PARENTING truly becomes effective?
I started researching the book when my son was 14 and my daughter was 12. As I started learning different coaching techniques, I began to make changes at home. I wish I had done it sooner because it required me to be a stricter parent and I think the earlier you start the better.
The concepts can work even for a five-year-old. For example, you tell your five-year-old, if he pulls his sister’s hair, he does not get to have a playdate with his best friend. So, he pulls his sister’s hair. Now, you have to follow through and cancel the playdate.
It sounds simple. But, Nicole, you have three kids. If you were planning on using that time he was on a playdate to get your haircut, stop at the bank, and go to the drugstore, what are you going to do? In Coach Parenting, the coaches always told me to set consequences you are prepared to follow through on. If you need the playdate time to do your errands, find a consequence that means something to him and is feasible for you to do.
For parents of teens, threatening to throw out their phone, smash their computer, or kick them out of the house may seem like something that would get their attention. But, chances are you do not want to carry out these punishments because they will need a new phone or computer and you do not want to worry all night because you told them to leave your house. The lesson? Don’t say it if you are not going to do it.
How do I know if I am ready to be a COACH PARENT?
If you need some help parenting your kids and need help implementing structure in your home, Coach Parenting can help.
If your kids do not listen to you, they behave disrespectfully, they use four letter words directed at you, and you feel you have lost control, you are definitely ready. Also, if you are worried your kids are going down a bad path or making poor decisions, a few small changes can make a huge difference.
In football, coaches say show up on time or get benched. I brought that concept into my home and I found that just requiring my kids to be on time whether it was for dinner, their assignments, or for curfew changed their behavior. To be on time, you have to get it together and be organized. When punctuality became a requirement with consequences rather than just a suggestion, I noticed an improvement in their grades, they became more respectful of my time and the time of others.
Will COACH PARENTING work for all kids?
Coach Parenting is really about giving your kids structure and I believe both parents and their children do well with structure. Something as simple as feeding your kids at the same time each day and giving them a set bed time that tells kids the day is over is very helpful for kids of any age. It gives their day structure. It also gives parents a time they know they can be alone which is just as important. Structure is good for everybody!
In COACH PARENTING, it suggested that we adapt our coaching style to each player. I can imagine that this can be tough and exhausting to constantly change your parenting style in order to suit the individual child. What tips do you have for not getting worn out by COACH PARENTING?
Adapting to the child just means using the same parenting style but sometimes a different tone of voice or a different approach. Some kids need you to put an arm around them, others need more of a firmer tone. The basics are the same. Just, the execution has to be adjusted. You are not going to yell at a sensitive child who will crumble at the mere sound of your voice. But, being sensitive does not get them out of doing chores either. It’s just more about knowing your audience and figuring out what works best with each.
Should families establish a “playbook” of sorts?
Yes. Whoever is co-parenting with you must be on the same page with you. If your husband disagrees with you, he should tell you in private — not in front of the kids. You must always appear as one and back each other up. That should be the number one rule of every family’s playbook.
Why is “explaining the why” so important in COACH PARENTING?
Gen-Z has Google and they are used to knowing the “why” for everything. For kids under 8, I would not give much of an explanation. But, once they get to an age where you can reason with them, they are more likely to listen if they know “why” they are doing it.
How does a COACH PARENT define a “win”?
If your teenagers come home when you tell them, they are respectful at home, and they make you proud to be their mom or their dad — that’s a WIN. There will always be moments where they do something they should not but those are just mistakes, and that’s how they learn and grow.
But, a “win” is different for every child. If you have a child that struggles socially and they have made a friend, that’s a win. Do not compare your kids to your friends’ kids. A win can be different for each child.
How do you handle a family member who is not being a “team-player”?
Speak to them directly about it, hear their perspective, and ask them to come to you when they disagree; but not do it in front of your kids because it undermines your authority.
Can COACH PARENTING work if only one parent is on board?
Yes, because each parent has their own unique relationship with their child. There will always be a parent who is more lenient. But, you have to parent the way you see fit. Do not back down, just because your partner is spoiling them. In fact, that’s the time you really have to coach parent.
Please explain and elaborate on the idea of the family “locker room”.
A “locker room” is a place where you can let your hair down and talk and hang out. It’s important to have a place like that in your home like the kitchen table or even in your car. You want to talk to your kids and have them talk openly and honestly with you with no judgement. That’s the locker room concept, and centering it around a casual meal or snack is a great way to do it.
What are the best ways to encourage and promote “team spirit” within your own family?
Go to see your kids in the play or in a soccer game together as a family and support one another as a family. No cursing, berating, or embarrassing one another publicly or privately. Those should be hard and fast rules for siblings especially when it comes to social media. Instagram and Facebook is not the place to discipline or humiliate a family member.
It is stated that one goal of COACH PARENTING is “not to control your children, but to teach them how to control themselves”. What are some of your suggestions for how us control-freak type parents (who cringe at the thought of relinquishing any authority) can implement this?
There is nothing better than when another parent tells you that your child was at their home and was polite, helped clear their plate, and was a pleasure to have over. You were not there telling them to say please and thank you. You did all the prep work ahead of time, hoping they would apply it when you are not with them. You can’t be there with them every minute, nor should you. Your job as a parent is to raise children who will grow up, be independent, and hopefully not live in your basement forever. Letting go means letting them make mistakes and letting them learn from those mistakes. If your son gets in trouble with his teacher, let him get the detention. That is how he will learn. Do not fix everything for them because the sooner they learn the lessons the better.
Want to find out what kind of Coach Parent you are? Take the quiz! I am a “competitive” one.
Have a daughter that you would love to connect deeper with? Grab your copy of Bonding over Beauty!
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