How to Raise a Child

Recently while appearing in Seussical the Musical, as Mrs. Mayor, I had a breakdown in Act 1 when I saw the “ceiling peeling” and the “flooded den” as a result of our son JoJo’s “thinks.” I vented frustration with my husband Mr. Mayor about raising our child, “Where are the instructions on how to raise a child? Who has all the answers? I don’t know…”

Have you also wondered about the instruction book for raising children?

It’s virtually impossible to write one definitive book because every child is different, every parent and every family is different, and there are so many possibilities.

Coaching, on the other hand, is a customized conversation that facilitates insights and discovery for the client. In an individualized conversation, parents have an opportunity to develop content for their own instruction book.

What if Mrs. Mayor could have worked with a coach? How might that have changed the story? Listen closely and see if it gives you any ideas for working with your child:

(For the ease of imagining and sharing this session, Mrs. Mayor will not be speaking in Seussian rhymes. We will, however, retain her use of the word “thinks” as a noun for things that have been thought.)

Me: I’m so pleased to meet you, Mrs. Mayor! Thank you so much for the honor of coaching you.

What’s going well for you these days?

Mrs. Mayor: Oh, I’ve been so worried about our speck of dust and what will happen to Who-ville. But, Horton has found us! We are safe on a clover. Well, for now. Oh! And the PTA has scheduled a bake sale coming up soon!

Me: That sounds huge! It must be such a relief to be safe on a clover. Congratulations!

What excites you about the bake sale?

Mrs. Mayor: Oh, I promised 10 pill berry bush pies! They are always so popular and sell out quickly! The proceeds will go to the Grinch’s Christmas Fund for Orphan Children.

Me: That does sound exciting! How dedicated of you to bake 10 pies for the bake sale!

Mrs. Mayor: I’m also excited for my husband’s opportunity to lead us, and for us to be safe. He’s just been elected and upstanding behavior is expected of our son JoJo. But, I am so worried about my son’s thinking! His teachers have nothing good to say about him. He gave Miss O’Dooley a nervous conniption! His thinking takes him places where no one has been! Then yesterday, we came up the stairs to discover that the ceiling was peeling and he had flooded the den. My husband and I just don’t know what to do!! We are beside ourselves!!

Me: That sounds very hard for you and your husband. It sounds like you know you want your son to stop having thinks that flood the den.

Do you have an idea of what you would like for him to do?

Mrs. Mayor: Before this thinking began, he was a perfect little boy, he did everything that he was told, he didn’t make any messes, his teachers all loved him because he did everything just the way that they asked. He even got an award once for how well he colored inside the lines!!

Me: It sounds like you are pretty sure that it’s all the “thinking” that’s been changing his behavior. and you’d like for him to stop!

Mrs. Mayor: We want him to think, we just want him to have normal thinks!

Me: What would normal thinking be?

Mrs. Mayor: He needs to stop turning minnows into whales!

Me: “Turning minnows into whales!” It sounds like he likes to have creative and inventive thinks. What a great strength!

How might you guide him towards using this strength in a way that feels more aligned with your vision for your family life?

Silence as Mrs. Mayor thinks and reorients around this question.

Well, what do you think?

What strength does your child overuse in ways that frustrate you?

How might you answer this question to guide your child to use her strength in ways that feel more productive and aligned with your vision for your family?

Does this question give you any new thinks about the instruction book for raising your child?  

Discover new insights for your own personal parenting instruction book through a complimentary coaching session.

Leah Zimmerman Headshop
Photo credit: Leila Sacks

Leah is a Certified Positive Psychology Coach who specializes in working with highly educated professional moms who want to reduce stress and bring more creativity, energy, and inspiration into their lives. Leah blends her backgrounds in leadership development, education and the performing arts with evidence-based practices to help women lead more integrated lives. Contact Leah for a complimentary coaching session and to learn more about coaching.


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