It takes a village to raise a child. (Nigerian Proverb)
– Desiree Panlilio
A life coach is an individual who helps their clients navigate the daily challenges and opportunities that life presents. They are the person whose job it is to improve the quality of their client’s life by offering thought-provoking questions on professional and personal matters. The life coach helps an individual define or discover their purpose. This is the perfect definition for adults who are seeking life coaching for their career, health, or to enhance personal relationships. However, this definition is out of touch with the needs of life coaching for teenagers.
The definition of this specific niche of life coaching needs to be tailored to that of the teenage population. As they mature, teenagers are developing metacognition (the ability to reflect upon our own thoughts and behavior) and are undergoing both physiological and physical changes. The teenager is not seeking a life coach for their career, health, or personal relationships. In most cases, it is the parent who is looking for another member for their “team” to help their teenager manage the inevitable transitions that come with being a teenager.
Transitions are specific life-changing events, such as the school change from middle school to high school. This transition occurs over a short span of time and upsets established routines which may disrupt academic goals, social roles, and networks. This is happening at a time when the teen is experiencing developmental transitions at the physical, cognitive, and psychological level. These transitions are part of the teenager’s normal life trajectory, and having a life coach who understands these changes can help to ease these transitions by empowering the teenager, ensuring that the teenager has purpose and helping the teenager look to the future. The life coach encourages and walks alongside the teenager, helping them to successfully navigate these developmental milestones and transitions.
Along with being a life coach to the teenager, the life coach often finds the need to take on the additional role of skills coach. As the skills coach to a teenager, there is a need to teach time-management skills, communication skills, organizational skills, and goal setting. All of these skills need to be taught in such a way as to be utilized and effective for each individual teenager. An organizational tool that works for one individual may not work for another and having more than one option to explore is a necessity for the teenage life coach. Teenagers are learning and developing these skills and the life/skills coach must be flexible in their approach. It is the life coach’s responsibility to find the right tools in order for the teenager to be successful.
As a teen life coach, I focus on helping teenagers navigate their challenges and achieve their goals. Teenagers are discovering who they are, where they want to go, and trying to understand the process of how to reach their goal. It is a journey that can be hazardous and frustrating for the teenager. It is difficult to understand and navigate the ever-changing landscape of academics, social expectations, and personal relationships. A life coach helps the teenager to navigate these challenging issues. Life coaching is a relationship that allows the teenager to maximize their potential.
To maximize their potential it is important to focus on the teenager’s strengths, to build on those strengths and help them to develop other areas to create a well-rounded individual. Exploring principles and values and how to incorporate these into their everyday lifestyle builds their confidence. By building their confidence, the teenager will be open to new learning, self-discovery and understand that life coaching is goal-directed, client-centered and rooted in the present and future.
Teenagers are dynamic individuals, faced with physiological changes, psychological changes, and the ever-fluid teenage world. It is the time in their life where they are confronted and often confused as to what the expectations and future holds. A life coach “walks” beside the teenager and provides encouragement, and asks the right questions to help the teenager design their own success. By providing the correct organizational tools and teaching and developing the skills teenagers need, a life coach helps the teenager grow in autonomy, helping them to develop their own goals and personal choices. You will see growth in competence as they gain confidence in their abilities and understand their principles and personal mission statement. This helps to build intrinsic motivation and purpose as they focus on their goals. With this new purpose and empowerment the teenager is able to envision their future and the life coach will have provided the encouragement and accountability to see this growth in the teenager.