Parenting Skills with Life Coach Sarah Maamoun
By Hilary Diack
When you hold that tiny helpless bundle in your arms for the very first time, can you begin to imagine what the coming years have in store for you? Raising your child to be a happy, well-balanced individual will mean facing challenges as well as enjoying the good times. Cairo East Magazine spoke with Sarah Maamoun, Life Coach and Parenting Advisor to see what advice she could offer.
CEM: Sarah, do you have children of your own?
SM: Yes, I have four lively children, ranging from 7-year-old twins up to a 13 and 14 year old. It gives me plenty of hands-on experience.
What common issues you are asked about?
Parents are often concerned with communication between them and their children, they want to have a better understanding of what is impacting their child and affecting his or her behaviour. They need to know how they can help their children go forward in life.
What are the most effective ways of motivating your child?
First you need to uncover any road-block the child may have. You need to discuss any fears and anxieties that are being unexpressed. There may be a problem with focussing and concentration, especially in the classroom, so find out if your child has to read passages more than once to understand the meaning. Does he or she do well in tests? If they get a poor result despite putting in a lot of effort it can be very de-motivating. Is there a good relationship with the teacher? Do they feel ignored or misunderstood? And what about relationships with classmates, do they have friends? Then you can set some achievable goals, something that will give your child a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Give acknowledgement when these are reached, this will be motivating.
What is the best way to encourage your child to develop his or her best attributes?
Listen and watch your child to see her body language and the glow in her eyes. Catch this opportunity and give attention to that attribute. Before complimenting her, let her see it for herself so she trusts your encouragement. She will then believe in herself.
How do you encourage a child to be more assertive and self-confident?
We teach a child emotional intelligence, and work on a new vocabulary to help them in their self-expression. If they know how to describe what they feel and what they need from each individual relationship in their lives they will be more outgoing, without confusion, aggressive behaviour or withdrawal into silence. Each relationship has its own dynamic, different things are needed from each parent or sibling, whether it is understanding, attention or simply companionship. Kids need to feel trust and affection, then they can develop their autonomy through the stages of growing up.
How can you teach a child to handle bullying?
Research shows that children with high self-worth and developed social skills are less likely to be bullied. In my sessions I help the bullied child verbalise the impact of the whole experience. I assist the parents in truly understanding what the child is going through. It is important to let the child find his own solution, this in itself will be empowering. Resist the temptation to interfere directly, you cannot be with your child all the time, and it can sometimes result in the bullying becoming greater. By asking your child how he feels and showing empathy you are giving them a good coping mechanism.
What should a parent do if their child starts stealing or lying?
These are done for different reasons. Each behaviour is trying to achieve something. Stealing is often an attention-seeking activity, it is not just about the object. The child knows that he or she will get caught. Lying generally comes from fear, or feeling under pressure. Close-ended questions that demand a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response may elicit a lie. If he or she does lie, try to see the reason behind it, but also make it clear that it is not acceptable to do this.
It is better to re-word a question in such a way that the responsibility of the response is placed on the child. Give your child sufficient space to communicate on the subject, it is important to know how they perceive the situation. This will set a healthy pattern for later in life.
How can we encourage our children to develop empathy for others?
By really understanding your child, without being judgemental. They need not agree or disagree with someone, but should learn how to consider the individual circumstances of others. Set an example by letting your child know that you understand them, but set behavioural guidelines where necessary. When your child appreciates that he is understood he will be able to open up more to others.
How can we help a child be his own person and not succumb to peer pressure?
We live in a peer-oriented society, and children are aware of this. They attach to their peers and can be influenced by them, sometimes to the extent of appearing like clones. Parents often expect their kids to develop independently, but in reality they really need guidance and support in developing until they are at least 18 years old. They often really want to be unique and have a clear identity, but just need to feel that they have their parents’ empathy and support in finding the path. Under the protective wings of the family, children will develop their confidence and learn to leave the nest as self-actualized young adults.