When it comes to coaching or being a coach, effective communication with caregivers is important so neither party feels left in the dark, misunderstood, or a problem arises. Clear boundaries are key for effective communication. It is crucial in building positive relationships to keep the communication with caregivers positive and direct pertaining to the expectations of Girls on the Run and what you as the coach feel is helpful. As a coach, our boundaries about practices, girls’ behavior, and programming have to be specific. In this episode of IGNITE, we will learn some strategies for communicating expectations in a positive and effective way.
TWO concepts to keep in mind:
★ The more communication, the better. No communication- is no good!
★ The more positive the communication, the better. Practice a GOTR lesson in a situation outside of a practice.
As a coach, I have some personal challenges that I have had to clearly and directly address at the beginning of a season with the parents to ensure I can focus on the season and team. I also follow up throughout the season with friendly reminders. Let me explain what this looks and sounds like with my team. Remembering that caregivers are an offshoot of my team and are vitally important to have for support.
Challenge #1: consistently picking up their girl(s) early from practice
How I might address this- A brief email or paper note (half a page) sent home with the GOTR expectations at the beginning of the season. I first state the importance of the caregiver’s time and efforts to get the girls to practice and be picked up from practice. Then I bullet the benefits of the whole team being present for the entirety of the practice (i.e. training, stamina, team building, etc.).
Challenge #2: expecting too much from an athlete at the practice 5K and at the 5K
How I might address this- Throughout the season, I will send notes to the parents informing them of the progress their daughter has made physically, socially, and as a team member. I use the language of GOTR to explain progress is important, steps forward are expected, self-made (girl-made) goals are great practice for life, etc.
You may not have these same challenges, but the strategies I list below will help with many situations to communicate with caregivers.
STRATEGIES FOR POSITIVE, EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:
★ Always say, “I value your _______ (time, motivation, encouragement, support). I also value your daughter’s _______ (training, confidence, self-talk, self-image).” It is important to address the effort the caregiver is putting forth for their daughter to attend practice and be a part of this amazing program. I keep in mind that every parent/person is doing their best with what life has handled them, is handing them, and will be handing them.
★ Send a VERY brief email to “spotlight” them, the team, particular girls and coaches. Giving energy awards to caregivers via email (or text, if your team works that way) will brighten their day and lay a great foundation for more positive interactions with any caregiver. It may also help soften some challenges that may occur in the future if you are already communicating with a positive energy.
★ Send home with the girls a “Thank You! for ________” (fill in the blank) to the parents for specific behaviors on a notecard or small greeting card. Sometimes including positive behaviors their daughter has shown makes it even more special!
★ Model GOTR language in front of the parents, and use it in your conversations with them as well. The “I statements” can always be used in any situation and/or relationship. It is easy to explain using examples of how we help our girls’ stars shine through tough times and struggles by encouraging the small steps forward.
IGNITING your positive communication skills to caregivers sets boundaries for a successful season. Communicating effectively can be challenging, especially when there are uncomfortable feelings or situations. The communication can become tricky. KEEP IT SIMPLE, DIRECT, and FRIENDLY and your star will shine through any moment!
READINGS TO DIVE DEEPER INTO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:
- Mastering-communication-boundaries by Chuck Bauer
- Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan When Words Have Power by Lisa Chong
- The Tactful Teacher: Effective Communication with Parents, Colleagues, and Administrators by Yvonne Bender
TO WATCH A VIDEO ON HOW TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH CAREGIVERS: