3 Reasons to Coach Your Children

You can position yourself in a number of different ways when working with your children. Many parents tend to function mostly as a police officer or a drill instructor. The emphasis here is mostly on rules and behavior and you can very easily wind up being very negative with your children. This is necessary at times, but when it’s your dominant position in relation to your children, the relationship tends to suffer.

My name is Ed Miller!
Another way to position yourself is as a coach. Good coaches help young people understand the rules, but they have a greater purpose. Just as a baseball coach wants to help a young player learn to be successful in hitting or fielding, so we as parents want to help our kids learn what they need to “hit it out of the park” in life. A coach comes alongside of a player and helps them become the best that they can be. Isn’t that what we want as parents?

One of the best ways to describe me is as a coach. I’m called Coach Ed by many people – baseball players and wrestlers; young people and parents. I love strategizing to determine the best ways to train, encourage and assist people to become the best they can be. The illustration of a coach does not work well for some people. That’s because all too often we see coaches who are out of control; overly negative and demeaning; or just harsh. The best coaches know how to be firm without being harsh.

I’m working with a young baseball player and giving him a lot of personal attention. We’re going to call this young man Ben. You see, I’m functioning as a baseball coach with Ben, but I’ve also positioned myself as a life coach. “Mentor” is another word that we often use for a relationship like this. I just love working with Ben. I’m also working with his mother as a coach to help her to be the best parent she can be.

One Saturday this year, I drove to see Ben and spent the whole day with him. We trained for 6 hours on almost every part of the game of baseball. I know Ben pretty well and I know his strengths. Much of our work focused on helping him maximize his strengths as a pitcher and a hitter. He’s got a beautiful baseball swing. He’s had some good training, but I saw some areas that we could tweek and help him be even more effective.

The first thing that a coach does is bring the expertise and experience we need. 

We need new information in our life in order to grow. Today, you can google something and learn how to do it without going to a coach. So what’s special about a coach? A coach can bring the information to you, but also apply it to your life. Experience teaches you how to apply information to real-life situations. Coaches know how to do that. Parents can be the best coaches for their children. They know them well. I believe that God places particular children in each family because the parents are well suited to working with them. A parent may need to develop some additional expertise, but that’s the easy part.

Let me illustrate this by talking more about teaching the skill of hitting a baseball. When hitting, you have to learn to “hit the ball where it’s pitched.” That means you need to learn how to go the opposite way with an outside pitch and “pull” and inside pitch. Most youth coaches don’t know how to
teach this and therefore most young players don’t know how to execute. You can generate the maximum amount of power by ”turning on an inside pitch.” The secret is simply that you must hit the ball out in front of the plate in order to get the fat part of the bat on the ball. If you don’t do this, you simply hit the ball on the thin part of the handle and the result is a weak ground ball.

This Saturday was the second time that I worked with Ben on how to turn on an inside pitch. He was really getting it now and he was so excited. He was getting the ball closer and closer to the home run fence. He finally hit one over. He sure was excited!

The second thing that a good coach does is provide encouragement and support. 

Once you’ve trained on a skill, then you become a cheerleader. It’s so helpful for a person to have someone cheering for them and believing in them. There may not be anything more important to a young person. This means more to some than it does to others of course. Some kids just love having fans who will come to their games and cheer them on.

After Ben and I had trained on hitting for a long time, we stopped training and I just let him do his thing. I made every effort to give him good balls to hit and I just cheered him on and encouraged his good effort. I’m going to take a brief aside here and talk and parents and youth sports. Many parents think that they always need to be instructing their children and that means during games. That’s one of the worst things you can do. Let the coaches on the field do the coaching and allow your child to attend to them. The best thing that you can do during a game or match is be an encouraging cheerleader. You can do some instructing at another time in the backyard, but it makes life tough for a coach when a player is constantly looking over to their parent.

The third thing that a good coach does is challenge a person. 

There’s a time for being a cheerleader and that often earns you the credibility to firmly challenge your protégé. In this case, Ben needed to be challenged in a character quality. I like to call this quality “cooperation” or a “responsiveness to authority.” I was most interested in challenging Ben about his responsiveness to authority in his home. I started by focusing on the same area in response to me as his coach.

On that long Saturday, we spent a lot of time training on being a pitcher. I had a number of things for Ben to work on, but I more than anything else, I wanted to challenge him toward character growth. I looked him right in the eyes and I talked with him about how important it was for him to follow my instructions completely. He needed to throw the pitch I called for and follow my instructions completely. As is the case with most of us, Ben often wants to do what he feels like doing. He also wants to be an effective pitcher and the best way for him to get there is to follow the instructions of an experienced coach who knows how best to get him to his goal. I did a lot of vision casting for why this was an important character quality for him to develop in his life. Ben trusts me and he agreed to the deal and he did very well for the whole day.

Ben and I took a break in the middle of the afternoon and went to get some ice cream. We talked about all kinds of things that were going on his life and my life. It was very special. When we got back to the fields, I asked him if we could have a more serious heart-to-heart conversation about his life. He agreed. I reminded him of the discussion we had earlier in the day about developing the character quality of “responsiveness to authority.” I told him that I now wanted to talk with him about being responsive to the authority of his parents. He told me that he was thinking about that when I talked with him earlier. Did I mention that he’s a very intelligent young man! He was already tracking with me.

Now I spent a lot more time casting vision for why this is an important quality for his life. We like to describe this process as helping a child see a desired future. What kind of person does God want them to be in 10 or 20 years? Most young people don’t think this way. They’re very present focused. Helping them see the bigger picture and start to think differently is tremendously useful in their development. I’ve written extensively about this in another article and I’ve also made a couple of videos.  Suffice it to say that responsiveness to authority may be one of the most important qualities of all. If you develop this quality, you’ll be successful in school, at work and in the world in general. Ultimately, you will be able to trust God and His Word and become a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I gave him a real heart-felt challenge. He was with me and asked some great questions. I asked him to practice respect and responsiveness to his mom for that next week. This kind of practice is how we train to become a different person with a new heart. Ben agreed to give this a go. I prayed for him and we were back to baseball.

Give this a try. Start working on being more of a coach with your children. 

How have you've "coached" your children and seen God work? 


Do You Need a Parenting Coach?

Here are a couple of other ways to get FREE or Inexpensive COACHING.

1) We have a new cadre of people ready to be trained as Parent Coaches starting on September 24. Each of them needs a client to work with as part of their training. You can get FREE coaching from one of these "Coaches in Training." If you're interested or know of someone who might be interested, email Dr. Scott Turansky right away. 

2) We have a new Online Parenting Support Group starting on September 25 and we'd love to work with you for 8 weeks this summer. This is the least expensive way to get Biblical Parenting Coaching. You'll get some great training via our Content Portal; support and input from Ed Miller and assignments to complete. You'll also get personalized input on the plan you're working on with your child. This is the best "coaching training" available to parents.  Click Here to learn more. You can also call our office at any time if you have questions. 609-771-8002 or email me at ed@biblicalparenting.org


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