Parent Coaching Ideas You Can Use

Staff working with child and parents

January 26, 2021

Self-Improvement Tips from Parent Coaching

Even though “baby” is in our name, Any Baby Can is all about whole family support because we know that strong, confident parents raise strong, confident kids. A crucial part of the work that we do—in all our programs—is parent coaching. This is not only about teaching parents childrearing strategies, but also empowering parents to gain confidence in their parenting, their child’s growth and development, and their family’s future.

Research shows that best practices for early intervention services incorporate learning in the natural environment and coaching models.1

“The thing that makes the biggest difference, over and above one's genetic blueprint, is the relationship a child has with a primary caregiver.” Philip Fisher, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.2

Several of our evidence-based programs have formalized coaching integrated into the curriculum. And there are many things that any parent can do to improve their parent-child relationship.

Encouraging Reflection

Our Healthy & Fair Start and Tandem programs use the Parents as Teachers curriculum. In these programs, a Parent Educator encourages parent-child interactions that address the child’s development, improve school readiness, and reduce parent frustrations. (Maybe “Parent Coach” would be a better title!)

Most importantly, we want the parent to bond with the child, to notice his or her abilities, strengths and individuality.

Here is an example of an activity that our staff may initiate with a mom and child. The activity is fun and engaging, addressing key developmental goals. In addition, the parent is encouraged to reflect on the experience for the child and herself.

Book Walk: Talking About Pictures, Words, and Meanings3

In some of our programs, like Healthy & Fair Start, the mom is the client. We’re working directly with the parent to improve household dynamics and prepare the child for school. However, in some programs like Early Childhood Intervention, the child is the client. The child may have physical, developmental or healthcare needs that our team works to address. Nevertheless, the parent’s involvement is fundamental to the child’s success.

Skills for All Areas of Life

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a family-focused intervention program specializing in children’s developmental needs between zero and three years old. Instead of solely focusing on what a child can or cannot do physically, cognitively or behaviorally, ECI uses parent coaching to help families support their child’s learning and development, during and between visits.

In one of the first meetings with a family, our specialists talk through the family’s daily routine. It starts from the moment the house wakes up: What are you doing? What is hard? How does that affect the family? Who are you interacting with? Understanding the environment helps the team set appropriate goals and expectations.

Goals are centered not only on developmental milestones for the child, but also on what the family needs help with to support their child. That could be connecting with other social programs, ongoing education or career support… or even just confidence to tackle challenges that arise.

“Our goal is to provide hands-on therapies, but also to know that when we leave their home or sign off of Zoom, that the caregiver knows how to do the therapies and feels able and confident to promote their child’s progress,” says Kira Simon, ECI Supervisor and Early Intervention Specialist.

No matter the program, during the visits a therapist, parent educator or nurse provides instruction and demonstration. But they also encourage the parent to reflect on progress, the suggested strategies, and on their own ability to support the child. These are skills that can be transferred to other parts of life.

Coaching Strategies for Any Parent

Parents looking to improve their relationship with their child should start by looking at strengths. Identify your own strengths as a parent, and where you feel most comfortable to excel. Look also at your child’s strengths and encourage and praise those strengths regularly. Keeping in mind the things that your child CAN do and what is developmentally appropriate for their age will help ease worries and temper frustrations. Try to be thoughtful about your child as a person. Really notice details and reflect on the individuality of your child.

Go through your daily routine. Is there anything in your home environment or in your schedule that you can improve on? Set small, short-term goals that set you and your children up for success.

Lastly, you can do this! It is an honor to raise a tiny human and what you do matters. You don’t have to set the bar high – even little, meaningful interactions with your child can amount to big improvements in your relationship and your parenting skills.

If you need support, contact Any Baby Can. Even if you don’t qualify for our services, we have parenting classes that can help all moms and dads better themselves, and their families!

  1. Early Intervention, IDEA Part C Services, and the Medical Home: Collaboration for Best Practice and Best Outcomes. Richard C. Adams, Carl Tapia and THE COUNCIL ON CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES. Pediatrics 2013;132;e1073; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-2305 originally published online September 30, 2013;
  2. Maximizing children's resilience. Kirsten Weir, September 2017, Vol 48, No. 8. Print version: page 40;
  3. Book Walk; Foundational Curriculum: Parent-Child Interaction – Activity Page. Parents as Teachers National Center. (2015);


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