Coach Advice: Stick to the Facts

Posted February 12, 2016 by

Coach Advice: Stick to the Facts

As a coach (and a mother), I remind myself and others to “stick to the facts” when parenting in difficult situations.

What do I mean?

“Stick to the facts” is shorthand for focusing on your child’s behavior – not the way that behavior makes you and your child feel.

How can you make this happen?

Bad behavior causes many powerful emotions in both parents and kids. That’s natural. Our most important relationships can stir up the best and worst of our emotions!

But when you are parenting a child who has misbehaved, it’s highly effective if you can separate your emotions from the job at hand.

Imagine you catch your teenager in a lie. You might feel sad, angry, betrayed, disappointed, and even fearful. You could feel like your child has a character flaw. Why would they lie? What kind of person are they? Who have I raised? As normal as these emotions are, they’re not helpful when deciding how to best respond to the behavior.


“Parenting has always been a balance between thinking and feeling, and both are very important. When you’re over–personalizing, you’re letting your feelings drive your actions.” – Carole Banks, MSW

If you can, stick to the facts.

Fact: Your child lied. Talk to him about it. Stay calm. Give an appropriate consequence.

For more guidance, check out this excellent article: Disrespectful Child Behavior? Don’t Take it Personally.

The emotions of parenting are very real and powerful. In many cases the secret to effective parenting is to separate emotions from behavior. When your emotions are high, think: What is the most effective role I can play for my family right now?

I know this isn’t easy! But it will get easier with practice.

Take care this week,

Denise, Empowering Parents Coach


Denise Rowden is a parent of two teens: an 18-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son. She has worked in Special Education, Alternative Education and adolescent group homes. She has a BS in Psychology from the University of Southern Maine and is currently working on her Life Coach certification from the International Coach Federation.

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