Parents as mentors and coaches


The pandemic that hit the world last year brought with it several problems and opportunities. One of the problems typically those working from home and residing in communities like an apartment complex often faced was children creating noise. While the work from home community complained of disturbance, parents of young children threw their hands up about their inability to engage these children effectively for months. There was always this constant friction between the two sections on this topic.

From my conversations with a few parents, I understood that they had adapted to the new norm of parenting and new communication methods. Most importantly, they had become a mentor and coach to their children. While these may have been necessary even during the pre-pandemic days, it was a must in the pandemic world we live in today.

Code of Conduct

One parent explained she developed a new code of conduct with her eight-year-old son. This code would change depending on the child’s mood. For instance, she would keep a watch on him but let him be if he is angry or agitated. She was not expecting him to finish his works in a time-bound manner. If he is happy and likes to strike a conversation, she would lend an ear and participate. Giving him space makes him understand he needs to deal with his emotions. He knows I am always around to help. This is making him more independent and mature. I have aligned my behaviour to his, she explains.

Need for self-control

When the issue between parents of young children and work from home adults reached its peak, a father of a five-year-old child came up with this unique idea. He showed his son the recording of a video of his neighbour struggling to listen to a call with children screaming in the background. The father collaborated with her daughter, explaining patiently the troubles their neighbour had working from home. “I waited for my child’s reaction. She protested. She said it is my playtime, and I can’t even go anywhere else to play! I agreed with her and told her, why don’t we ask the neighbour uncle what to do? The conversation between my child and my neighbour solved the issue. We set timings for her to play in the corridor. It may be too early to learn; however, she discovered a little more about being disciplined.”

Don’t mind their language

Another mother of an 11-yeard old daughter lets her child pour out her thoughts, hopes, feelings and frustrations whenever she feels like it. No holds barred. Initially, she was itching to jump into the conversation with her views and opinions. She resisted it. She observed the language her daughter used to vent her feelings and frustrations. Over time she realised it was just her way of letting her displeasure out. The mother slowly and subtly showed her dissatisfaction with the language used through body language. While initially it did not have any impact on the daughter, over time, it did. The mother could see some improvement.

It was no doubt difficult for parents of young children and at times awkward also to explain why they are locked up, restricted, and made to glue to their computer. For children not being able to go to school or meet their friends is a significant loss. Unusual times have made several parents rethink their parenting and communication strategy. Many today are less of a parent and more of mentors and coaches.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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