Controlling And Domineering Children — Helping Them Let Go Of The Fear Of Losing Control

Controlling And Domineering Children — Helping Them Let Go Of The Fear Of Losing Control

In this week’s article on successful parenting, I’m probably going to hit some nerves. I’m talking about controlling or dominating children and how to help them.  It is a frustrating topic particularly for life coach for kids experts like myself. However, I have to ask you to bear with me, we can get through this together.

We all have pet-hates, some people hate people eating with their mouth open. Others can’t stand leaving food on the plate or go mad when their house is untidy. I don’t have many of them (well, I don’t enjoy people eating with their mouth open but I am working on it), but I have pet-hate words.

The one that raises all my alarms is; control. This is especially crucial in a parent-child relationship. I can’t seem to stand it when in a parent coaching session I hear: “He needs to control his temper” “I can’t control my kid”.

I call it my personal c-word. It just makes me cringe. Let me explain why and how I go about dealing with controlling or dominating children. As always, I will provide examples and some tips for you to read. Also, feel free to read other related articles in the blog like “talking with teenagers” or “managing unruly behaviour”.

Challenging behaviour, controlling behaviour, dominating children, children displaying aggressive behaviour

Unfortunately, this is a lot more common than it appears. I can remember one time in parenting classes that a parent told me “it is not nice to be around him/her” or “he/she is a great kid but I feel he is using me” or “when he/she is like this, he/she can’t control himself/herself and I can’t control myself too”. Consequently, all these conversations tend to be very emotional and parents feel way out of their depth. Their love for their children is mixed with the very human experiences of having a child’s behaviour dominating them and the house.

Let me introduce a case study about a controlling child

A few years ago I was working as a life coach for kids with a 12-year old (we will name her Mary) that was showing early signs of self-harming. Also, her behaviour at home and school was becoming erratic and a lot of the time aggressive towards her parents and friends. We had a number of kids coaching sessions and, in all honesty, the result was, at best, volatile. However, she enjoyed coming to talk with me and I felt the relationship was improving. A big part of the work of coaching kids is to create space for things to eventually happen. I can’t express how frustrating that “eventually” might be and it is sometimes an act of faith to believe that we will get there.

Controlling and Domineering Children

One day, she suddenly changed the topic and said:

Mary: “I was four when I knew I had it.”

Me: “What happened when you were four?”

Mary: We were getting ready to go to the nursery, we were running late and my mum was a bit tense. I am not sure what happened but I believe I threw something or broke something. My mum started shouting and I was so afraid I started crying. After a few seconds, my mum came to me and apologized, hugged me and was soft.

me: and…

Mary: And I knew I had it.

Me: What did you have?

Mary: Control. I could control my parents.

I frequently use this example during kids coaching and parent coaching sessions to illustrate how our mind makes decisions and then repeats them. The only trouble is that many of those set-in-stone decisions are made when we are way too young and can’t really judge them, like in the case above.

Important note: The girl in the example was not consciously seeking control. It was purely subconscious. It was only through coaching kids’ conversations that the feelings and ideas became conscious to her. I believe this to be the case for the vast majority of children I have supported (and that’s many hundreds of them)

As impactful as that part of the conversation was, the follow up was a lot more revealing and powerful.

Over the next years, Mary made ‘controlling’ a way of being. Her parents noticed that she was determined and stubborn, but it was all manageable even charming at times. There were two of them and one of her. She was small and most of her demands could easily be met. Even in school, she could be demanding but charming and it was more or less easy to resolve. This is one of the points I find really tough to explain during parent coaching sessions.

However, things changed for the worst when she moved into secondary school. She then realized she didn’t have much control at all. Her teachers and friend would have a defence influence on her (as for any other kid of this age). The work from school got a lot more demanding, failing was a lot more noticeable.

The social clique could set you in the “popular group” or the “boring group” without much to do with her. The more she realized she didn’t have control anymore, the more she craved control. Thus, she started pulling out of school a few days here or there. At home, her behaviour was becoming a tyranny. Her parents would bend backward to please her but at one point or another, she would lash out and they would reciprocate. Doing homework or getting her out of her phone would be a full-blown out battle with only one loser.

As a life coach for kids, the reason why I am bringing this difficult example is that it is all rooted in that word Control. This is the need for something that, according to me, doesn’t really exist. However, like in every article I write, I aim to provide the two sides of the coin—what is it that is happening inside the kid’s mind and what can parents do in this situation.

But, let’s start by giving you a few bullet point ideas on what to expect when  overcoming controlling children:

  • Your kid is not enjoying it either
  • He/she is the kid/teenager. You are the adult. You have different responsibilities in resolving this situation (as well as vested interest)
  • Yes, I am afraid it’s going to take time and consistency. No magic wand here either.
  • Yes, it can be done. It’s been done before and it will be done in the future. Believe you will do it.
Contraolling and Domineering kids

From my experience as a life coach for kids, I would suggest you write those four kids coaching points on a piece of paper and keep it with you. Put it in your wallet and read it regularly. They are all hugely important. However, I  am sure you will rip up the paper, swear at me or cry in desperation in no distant time. But by persisting, I am sure one day you will look back and say: hmmm, maybe Javier was right.

So, what’s going on with your child? Why are they demanding control? Why are they using aggressive behaviour, being a controlling or dominating child or just  can’t manage to take no for an answer without starting a personal WWIII

There are many reasons a child can become dominating or controlling.

Through hundreds of parent coaching and kids coaching sessions, I have found that the reasons come in many ways and shapes. However, in the end, there is a tremendous lack of self-confidence. This creates a fear of being rejected,  or less than somebody else (siblings, friends), less than what they think you expect from them. These fears are created early in their formative years for multiple reasons. In the vast majority of the clients I see, they were created in very innocent, well-intentioned situations that got totally messed up (the child was tired, or a combination of conversations happened on the same day) or simply by small repetitions of negative thoughts.

What is most important is the feeling that the situation created. Behind challenging behaviour, comes the need to control the situation. However, behind this need, we can find a lack of confidence and behind this lack of confidence is the need to feel physically, emotionally or sociably safe. Let me give you an example. Place yourself in a 4, 5 or 6 years old kid mentality. He or she has had a couple of situations in school/home, maybe they were over impulsive, or they opted not to listen and got into trouble. Or somebody blamed them for something they hadn’t done. These are everyday situations I encounter as a parent and in my work as a life coach for kids, and, in the majority of cases, we just brush them away. But in some cases, we don’t and a repetitive thought process starts. Something like this:

“I feel I am different, maybe not good enough. I am doing my best but I can’t avoid thinking I will blow it up and everybody will see me for what I am: a failure. This feeling is burning inside me. What if my parents find out? They might prefer my siblings to me. It is so painful I need to control it. I want my parents to think about the world of me, I can’t do the wrong things, but I feel I will do them and if I do…. No, I need to control what’s going on.”

I guess you can see how the little kids can struggle with this situation. Heck, anybody would struggle! As the need for control becomes more pressing, the realization that they don’t have it becomes more clear. As this happens, they will aim to force it and enforce it. Anything that feels like out of control will trigger their response/defense system.

Controlling or dominating children are trying to create a safe haven.

And here, the situation complicates a bit. As they demonstrate negative behaviour, they also observe that sometimes (many times or even almost always), there is a benefit. The parents or friends might eventually give up and concede in their request. Or as described to me by an 11 years old girl during kids coaching session: “after the argument, mum comes and we have a chat. It feels good, she is only with me.”

After repeating this pattern, the combination of the need for control, lack of confidence, and benefit obtained becomes so tangled that the young person can’t differentiate the beginning from the end, the reason from the consequence and it is all a vicious circle. To make things worse, every time they do it, they know they shouldn’t have done it and feel even worse about themselves.

So, here you have it. As I explain in parenting classes, your kid is not enjoying the bad behaviour either. Not a little bit…. well, maybe he or she enjoyed that after-argument connection. However, they would love to have that connection without a negative feeling.

I can imagine many of you now thinking “what did I do?” “How could I get it so wrong?”. Well, let me stop you there. Obviously, I don’t have a magic ball, but if you are taking the trouble of reading this article, it probably means that you have their best interest at heart, your intentions have been good. Therefore, there is no need to get into the Guilty train. That journey takes you nowhere, helps nobody. So, stop it. It’s not worth it.

So, how do we go about helping children who are controlling or dominating?

In a word: carefully.

As a professional life coach for kids, the first thing I’ll suggest is that you have to put yourself together. Don’t take it personally and don’t blame yourself or others. It is a situation and, most likely, had many reasons. Don’t waste your time on finding the reasons—at least not just yet. Instead, use your energy to keep calm and focus. Subsequently, believe that your kid can overcome those fears (those I mentioned or others) and will become a fantastic kid.

Secondly, aim to connect with the feelings your child is experiencing. This is an important topic in all my parenting classes. I mean, the deeper feelings, not the anger or frustration. Also, aim to connect (not understand) the emotions that are triggering those feelings. One important thing to mention here is that you will never be sure if the feeling you think is the right one. It doesn’t matter, any good connection at that level will be good.

Thirdly, stay with him/her. This doesn’t mean hugging them or constraining them or on being top of them. It means to be physically and emotionally with them. So, it is not the best time to pick up your phone, do dinner or—please never do this—video their actions. Just stay there with and for them.

The main goal is to help them feel safe and reassured.
Controlling kids

Fourthly, eliminate control from your vocabulary. During parents coaching sessions, I advise them to change it to words that are more empowering and flexible. I tend to use “manage” or “deal with”. The reality is that we don’t have control over almost anything in this life. What we can do is to manage a given situation the best way we can. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it will not work. That’s OK.

I find that many parents make a battleground out of “control” ie. “I can’t let my kid control our lives” or “I should be able to control my child.” Well, if you see this as a battle, you have already lost it. The more you aim to gain control, the more the kid will feel they are losing it, so they will only up their game to regain it. The difference is that you have certain lines you will not cross. Your child doesn’t have any red lines, they will say and do whatever is necessary and that’s when you will lose. So, change the game, forget about controlling them (do you like being controlled?) and start working on how to help them. Eventually, you will be able to manage the situation.

Fifth (is there a fifthly word? Sounds strange to me): Accept and help them accept that things don’t always go according to plan. The key question is: “and now what?” “What is that I can do?” “How do I go forward?” This is a question you can ask your children. Even as young as five or six, they will have some ideas. Perhaps, you may want to suggest others, but remember it is a joint job.

Finally, and this is the big one for me, I want you to start thinking, and help your child thinking on these lines: what is that you want to control vs what is that you can influence.

Practical parenting exercise in supporting a domineering child.

Take a pen and a piece of paper and draw two boxes. On one side you will write what are the things you want to achieve (most likely, those we want to “control”). On the other side, you will write what are the things you can do to influence the outcome on the first box. I know, it sounds a bit strange and confusing, but bear with me.

For instance: The topic is to help my child resolve his temper.

What do I want to achieve? I want to have quiet evenings, happy family time, be able to provide comments to their drawings or homework without having an almighty argument, siblings getting a lot together. Ultimately, I want my child to be happy.

Do you notice anything about that list?

As nice as it sounds, the reality is that we have no control over any of those things. Even as a professional life coach for kids, I still can’t force my way into their heads. It is not within my power to grant those things as it involves other people or family members. Unfortunately, as much as I want all those things, they are not within my power.

Therefore, the more you pay attention to that box (what I want to achieve), the more frustrated you will become. I believe we get frustrated because we can’t get it and we know it. Furthermore, every second, minute, hour or day I spend thinking on that box is double wasted. Wasted once because it is not my “gift to give”, it doesn’t depend on me exclusively. Wasted twice, because I am not using my energy in the right way. Again, this is another point I often find hart to explain in parenting classes. A lot of questions will always come up.

Now, think about the second box. What is that I can do—sort of kids coaching technique—that hopefully,/maybe/fingers-crossed, could influence help my child resolve his temper?

Here I would write things like: I will keep calm, I will ensure he is aware of any change of routine, I will ask how he is feeling, I will allow him to express himself, I will keep an eye on the sibling relationship as maybe he is getting the short straw….., etc.

Did you notice something? Every single thing starts with the pronoun “I” and most of those things are within our reach. We can do something about them. Those are good indications that we are getting it right.

Ok, it is already the longest article I have written so far. As you can imagine I could go on and on. However, I want to leave it here. I hope these ideas help you understand and connect with your child and create strategies to help them. Remember, they are not enjoying it either.

As always, If you like the article, please share and/or subscribe to HelpingKids channel on YouTube and Facebook page, It helps us a lot to spread the word and support other parents.


Suggested Reading

Choosing your battles with a controlling child

4 Life Coaching Tips For Dealing With Teenager’s Unruly Behaviour

4 Life Coaching Tips For Dealing With Teenager’s Unruly Behaviour

In this article on practical parenting, I want to share with you four key ideas about teenagers and behaviour. In my experience as a life coach for kids, I have found either one or more issues at the root cause of unruly behaviour in young people. 


The first thing I’d like to share with you is that their behaviour is only an outcome; a result, a consequence of something else. When a teenager, or any child, let loose their bad behaviour, what they are really telling us is, “I am hurting so much and feel so angry and afraid I don’t have any other way of telling you”. I found this out through hundreds of kids coaching interactions.

practical parenting,Life Coaching teenagers

If we judge the young person on this behaviour, we are missing THE POINT, big time! As parents and educators, we want to see beyond the NEGATIVE behaviour and aim to connect with the feeling that is creating that behaviour.


Listen rather than talk. I know that I talk about effective listening a lot, so let me quote a dear friend instead. “We have two ears and one mouth, we have to use them in this proportion”. At least, I know that this is a golden rule for those who aspire to succeed in providing life coaching for children. Don’t aim to fix your child, solve their problem, impart judgment or police them. They don’t need any of those roles from you—or at least not just yet.

Be ready to listen. The most important part of practical parenting is communication, and a large part of that is listening. The more you truly listen to your child, the more your child will listen to you. Make a conscious decision to fully listen to them without judgment, blame or regrets. Silence can be a great help for them and for you. If you are finding this difficult, maybe you need to enroll in parenting classes.


Be ready to ask open questions that allow them to explain themselves and most importantly, will enable you to create a connection with them. By using open questions, I mean questions that encourage proper answers rather than yes/no or any other single word reply. 

If you ask: how are you feeling? Do you know the answer? 9 out of 10 times they will say “OK” as a way to avoid any further questioning. They probably don’t feel great talking about whatever is happening. However, we can help them slowly open up by asking the right questions. Successful kids coaching is usually about asking the right questions. Here are some examples:

  • How do you feel after doing that?
  • How does that make you feel?
  • I imagine that feels pretty bad, how is it for you?
  • What DO you feel(or think) you can do about it?
  • How can I help you?

Be ready for rejection, challenges, and frustration. This approach might be new to them. Thus, they probably won’t feel comfortable at the beginning. Keep going, adapt these ideas and questions, keep being there for them. At one point, they will accept your time and presence. Then the real conversation starts.

practical parenting,Life Coaching teenagers

As a professional life coach for kids and a parent, I am aware it can feel a bit overwhelming to take on this approach. Make sure you are in the right place to follow through.  Also, you can enroll in my parenting classes for further help.

These tips are what I use at work to provide life coaching for children every day. Also, I use them when talking with my daughters. I don’t want to promise they will work all the time or immediately. However, I can promise you it will change the dynamics in you and in your son or daughter. Over time, these four tips have the potential to change your relationship for the better. 

Here are the four life coaching teenagers’ tips again:
  • Ignore the behaviour, connect with the emotion that is driving it
  • We have two ears and one mouth. Listen more to them.
  • Use open questions to help them express themselves.
  • As I say in many videos, keep going. Consistency, especially in the face of rejection is fundamental.

There are many articles on practical parenting and effective listening here on my blog. However, if you wish to ask any questions, get in touch with me. It feels fulfilling to spread the word and support other parents. 


Suggested reading

Grenfell Tower – Helping Deal With The Emotions

Grenfell Tower – Helping Deal With The Emotions

Helping children and adults to cope with difficult events

Residents and visitors to North Kensington area are experiencing a terrible situation in many aspects. Many will be affected directly, and others indirectly. Emotions will run wild. As a life coach for kids, I feel responsibe to offer my counsel.

I am hopeful that the counsel will provide the best service available to those affected directly. Also, this document serves as a guide to parent coaching as well as coaching kids who are exposed to the situation but not directly affected.

Whatever happens in the next hours and days, the children and adults in the area will likely experience painful emotions. It is important to remember that, after the main event, people will have a regular reminder of it in the form of police, builders or the simple sight of the building.

After researching on these situations, I have put together a few simple ideas. I have made it as simple as possible, just like every good parenting courses should be.

1- Talk or Don’t Talk. It’s an individual decision. Respect other’s decision and ask them to respect yours.

While for some people talking about the event has a healing effect, for others it could feel like reliving the experience. Thus, this can create further stress. Feel free to say if you don’t want to talk about the event or if you need to talk about it.

If a child or adult wants to talk about it, just be mindful of the amount of time (attention, energy) dedicated to this conversation. If it’s becoming too much, it is time to divert the attention to other things.

When a child doesn’t want to talk about the event, let it be. However, monitor their behaviour and patterns. Look for signs of worry, any spontaneous and unusual outburst of tears or temper, changes of eating or sleeping patterns. If any of these happen, it is time to have a conversation or ask for help. Life coaching for children requires a lot of observation. In some cases you may need to make their decisions for them.

2- Stay connected with your support network (e.g. family, friends).

Make an effort to maintain a healthy social environment around you.  A variety of activities, groups and locations can be a good option.

If possible, try to maintain as much of your normal routine as you can. Be aware of your emotions and feel free to give yourself breaks and time to stop and think if needed. As a professional life coach for kids, I also do parent coaching to help them gain skills to handle this kind of situations.

3- Take action

Volunteering or supporting in any way you can have an empowering effect. The work may or may not, be related to the event.

Joining or creating a group with a clear task will help focus effort and create a sense of community. Anything is better than nothing. Taking food or clothes to shelters, raising money, coaching kids to deal with their emotions or helping with other tasks. All will contribute to a sense of focus and purpose.

4- Get moving

Encourage children and adults to move physically; it can be through exercising or long walks. This is more cruicial during life coaching for children sessions. They need the constant distractions to prevent the emotions from building up.

If exercising alone, focus your attention on how your body is responding to the exercise. Keep your eyes focused in narrow areas (on trees at the side walk).

If exercising in a group, be aware and respectful of everybody’s emotions.

5- Self-regulate your emotions

Small things can trigger powerful emotions. Also, the feelings can slowly build up over time. Be aware of how you and the people around you might be feeling.

Use conscious breathing. Breath in slow and deep through the nose and exhale through the mouth for a few minutes. When you are breathing, focus your attention on a single item in the room.

Make an effort to speak slowly and calmly. This will have a significant effect on you and the people around you. Use your voice to convey a message of calm to yourself and others.

6- If in doubt, ask

There are lots of great websites and services that can help you and your children. Don’t hesitate to contact them for advice.

Whatever ideas your collect, ensure they feel suitable to you, your children and your loved ones. If they feel too demanding, reduce the activity or the length of exposure to them. Evey person is unique, let your feelings guide you through what is right for you.

Here are the best two links with powerful advice that I found.

Emotional and Psychological Trauma–-self-help-guide

Children’s Tantrum And Bad Behaviour

Children’s Tantrum And Bad Behaviour

Have you ever asked yourself or heard a parent ask, “What do I do when my child is throwing a tantrum?” or “What do I do when my kid is not listening to me?” In severe cases you may even hear parents ask, “Where can I send my out of control teenager?”

I have to admit that in all my career of coaching kids, I have heard all, a lot of times, and my answer is always the same: “NOTHING”

There are lots of great publications out there with great advice on anger management for teens and related topics. However, my approach is much simpler. I opt for understanding what is happening and what you need to do next time.

Understanding the Tantrum State

Working as a life coach for kids, I have a better understanding of the tantrum state. The first part of anger management for teens is understanding that in the middle of the situation (shouting, tantrum, bad behaviour) the child is in a high emotional state. He/she is not listening to you; he/she can’t listen to you in that state. Remember the last big argument you had with your partner, boss, colleague, sibling? Did you listen to them? Or did you take their words to throw them back at them?… No need to answer.

Regardless of our age, when we are in a high emotional state we tend to become defensive and aggressive at the same time. We momentarily lose the ability to listen constructively. Through coaching kids, I’ve figured its harder for children to deal with the heat. This is probably because of their lower intelligence and lack of experience. The funny thing is that we, parents, tend to put all our energy in the heat of the moment. This is less likely to have any effect at all. So, whatever you do or say is going to either be wasted or misinterpreted.

That’s why my advice is to do nothing. Let me explain a bit more.

We need to think about these situations in three stages: before, during and after. We need to adapt our strategies and approaches according to each stage. I emphasize a lot on this during my parenting classes.

The Stages of Tantrum in Children


I am sure you can identify which situations will trigger tantrum or bad behaviour in your child. Talk to your child about it, about what happened last time. Let them know what is expected. Allow them to express their worries and frustrations and come up with their own possible ideas. Basically, help them prepare for it or even rehearse for it. Interestingly, you don’t need to be a career life coach for kids to be able to do this. In a relaxed state, children are easy to talk to and their listening potential is higher.


If, or when, the situation happens there is only one thing you can do; damage limitation. Stop it from escalating. This could be removing him/her from the room, stopping the argument with their siblings (i.e. send them to a different area of the room) or anything that will stop this from getting worse. Keeping a balance yet firm approach, is fundamental. Avoid taking sides; simply stop it from going any further. Become a rugby referee: cool, calm and collected. In my parenting classes, I help parents to understand how this can be done.


Give them time to cool down and cool down yourself (you might have noticed the hint of the cup of tea in the picture). In some cases they’ll need 30 minutes, in others a few hours. Judge it by their level of calmness, tone of voice and interaction with you and/or the other part involved. Do not let it go without a talk! This is another of our major mistakes when it comes to anger management for teens. We kiss, make up and forget. This stops the learning from happening. Talk about it. Let them express their frustrations but focus mostly on how to do it better, what worked and what didn’t work. This is where the learning, the real learning, happens. Ensure you spend as much time as possible on this stage. If they did certain things right (i.e. he/she held for 5 minutes before reacting to his/her brother’s behaviour) praise them for it. Be sympathetic but firm. Suggest ideas but allow them to create their own learning.

All this might seem like a lot of work, and it is a lot of work (parenting is a lot of work!). Inasmuch as I have been coaching kids for many years now, it is still a lot of work for me too. Just know that the more you do it now, the easier it will get later on. My advice is to start as early as possible. Simply adapt the time and tone of conversation to their age. The more and earlier you do this, the easier the teenage years will be for all of you.

Here are some links to people that I respect and their opinions on the same topic:

Using Feedback To Boost Children Motivation

Using Feedback To Boost Children Motivation

Use every opportunity to provide empowering feedback and drive motivation in our children

Use every opportunity to provide empowering feedback and drive motivation in our children

Utilize every opportunity to give great empowering feedback to motivate your children

Before you go on reading, I want to make one thing clear: I love my daughter’s school. It’s outstanding and I wouldn’t change it for the world. In fact, in my years of working as a life coach for kids, it is one of the best I have seen. However, her latest school report can seriously affect her motivation. How do I help her?

For the last 3 months my daughter has committed to the school, worked hard, done extra homework, got assigned to several special roles, participate in open days, been made player of the match in several occasions, volunteer to help the dinner ladies, etc.

Basically she has done everything under the sun to show her commitment and effort. She has put hours of great work in every task and subject and I know it because I have seen it. Sometimes I wonder where she gets the study inspiration.

You can imagine my surprise when she got the most normal “positive approach” rate to her effort in all subjects—the same she has got ever since she joined the school. In my parenting classes, I always encourage parents to keenly observe and follow their kid’s progress.

You can say, it is not a bad rating—and you’d be right. It is not a bad rating, but, it is far away from the work she has put into this term.

So, why am I so upset?

I am upset because, without realising, we box kids and leave them there. Because when they are placed in a set, most of them will stay in that set. I am upset because eventually the children learn that “good enough is good enough”. At the end of the day “I am in set C because only the clever kids are in set A”. So, no need to work harder. This can easily make them to lose study inspiration. As a life coach for kids, they tell me this a lot.

I am upset because we give them a role that they take and never leave. We train them to accept what they have with very little change.

I am upset because we should be rewarding the effort not the outcome. Reward their drive, energy, enthusiasm, concentration, motivation, carefulness… whatever they are doing. The outcome is only a temporal thing. The effort is a learning for life. This is another point that I emphasize in parenting classes.

And I am upset, first and foremost, because despite some kids working really hard to push themselves, the lack of recognition demotivates them. I know it perfectly well because I was one of those kids who eventually gave up on himself. It took a lot to get myself back on track.

So what can I do now? I consider myself a responsible father and as a life coach for kids, I want my daughter to continue being enthusiastic, motivated and driven. I am also conscious the school has her best interest in heart, but this has the potential to send the wrong message.

Do I hide the grades? Do I make a fuzz with the school? Should I tell her, she hasn’t done well enough?

Here is what my experience working as a life coach for kids tells me to do: Understand, empowering feedback, re-define her goals, focus on the learning


Seek clarification from the school on each of those ratings. What has driven them? It is important to know the expectations of the school. In parenting classes, I tell them how bad it is to make conclusions based on assumptions. Also, I will ask the school, what has she done well and what is expected of her? What is expected of a child to move up one step up in the ladder?

Empowering feedback

In kids coaching, I use a very simple technique created by my friend Danny Maude: Best (3) – Better (1) – How. I will use this to give feedback to her. I observe this techniques builds tremendous motivation, study inspiration, and self esteem in children (and adults too)

The technique is  as follows; 3 things she has done well and she is vey proud of. 1 things she can do more of or better next time. “How” can she do it better next time.

Keep the ratio 3:1. However, if there are 2 things to improve (“better”) , find out 6 things she did well.

Re-define her goals

With the information from school and, probably your experience from parenting classes, help her set some clear goals. Ensure her teachers know about it and there is a clear agreement on expectations. Help her monitor consistency. From time to time talk about what she is doing and ensure she has or can get the support she needs.

One thing I know from experience as a life coach for kids is that achievable goals are fundamental in boosting motivation in children. Consequently, this can improve their study inspiration. If the expectation is too high, they won’t trust they can make it. However, too low goals will make them to lose motivation to put in their best.

Focus on the learning

While it is great to get praise from others, bear in mind that sometimes the recognition will come, at other times, it will not. In both cases, be equally proud of what you’d done, how you did it, and what you have learnt. Those learnings are the steps in the journey. They are what make us better and help us grow academically, professionally, and personally.
And do you know what, it feels good to have a plan.