I'm a Mom and a Life Coach: Here's How I Teach My Kids to Cope in Difficult Times

A life coach shares the five ways she teaches her kids to get through their hardest moments by staying positive.

An illustration of a family talking at a dinner table.
Photo: Yeji Kim.

In times of uncertainty, I feel very fortunate to be a life coach: my career choice has prepared me to face "the tough stuff"—and it's made the COVID period we all struggle with just a little easier to manage. But I know that even in the best of times, it can be challenging for parents to stay grounded and keep our homes filled with light, laughter, and joy. Now, as we all navigate the "acceptance" and post-pandemic era, I'm deeply grateful to have created and practiced my life lessons; they help me bring positivity to my family and our lives together.

These lessons are detailed in my new book, If it is Not Right, Go Left (published by The Collective Book Studio), which delves into my experiences dealing with traumatic childhood grief, and outlines my advice for those going through any kind of life challenge, big or small. I'm not saying that being a life coach makes everything perfect—nothing is perfect. However, it does help provide me with parenting inspiration and positive direction and I hope that sharing what I've learned through coaching will help other parents and their families.

Yes, there's still a lot of sadness in the world. Yet, we all can stay hopeful about the future and the possibilities it holds. As parents, we want to remind our children that it's OK to connect and celebrate even in difficult times. In fact, connection and celebration are more than OK—they are key to our overall well-being. Here are my top tips for staying positive during difficult times.

Honor Traditions, Old and New

If your family has beloved rituals that you all look forward to, don't miss a chance to celebrate them—every one of them. If you haven't observed any traditions thus far, now's the time to create new ones together that your kids can count on throughout the week and the year. Traditions don't have to be elaborate. In addition to holidays and other occasions, my family enjoys tea time in the afternoon or at bedtime, plus a sit-down "Friends and Family" Italian supper most Sundays.

Find the Do

Physical activity is important year-round. With the days becoming shorter, it's challenging to find activities that everyone in the family can enjoy. My girls like bicycling, so they go out for bike rides together with my husband. My son prefers to shoot hoops. With all of us spending more time indoors, it's also helpful to find inside activities the kids can enjoy. My eldest daughter isn't the athletic type, so she and I started a tradition that has nothing to do with sports: a weekly late-night dance party in full, elaborate costume. It's so much fun that the rest of our family can't wait to participate!

Kristen Glosserman and her family.
Kristen Glosserman and her family. Liza Gershman

Switch It Up

Change is good, I always say. As important as consistency is in kids' lives, so is the element of surprise. Encourage your kids whenever they want to do something funny or just plain silly. For one Saturday night dinner, my girls showed up dressed in onesies. Sometimes, we can relax certain rules and enjoy moments of carefree fun.

The other night, I found my girls dancing on the barstools in the kitchen. Instead of reprimanding them—which normally I would do with a "feet on the ground!" directive, my way of saying "no standing on furniture"—I jumped on a barstool and danced along with them. Within minutes, we all were doing the chicken dance. This doesn't mean that discipline goes out the window; it means there are certain times when it's important to switch to "Cool Parent" mode, for example when the mood gets too heavy. Whenever the occasion calls for it, I take off my disciplinarian hat and join the party—and my kids recognize the change in energy: they'll say, "Oh, here's vacation Mom!"

Family Share

I'm certified in positive discipline, which emphasizes regular family meetings. We call ours "Family Share." Once a week, we all sit in a circle (or around the table) and each one of us shares something about ourselves, or has the option to ask someone else to share something. This "Ask or Share" ritual helps us to stay connected as a family, so we really try to have one every week, or at least twice a month. This helps us take advantage of the moments when we're all together—because those moments are way fewer now than they were at the height of the pandemic.

What's Next?

This is the question I end every coaching session with. What are your kids looking forward to this coming year? Whether it's starting school or going away on vacation, it's helpful for children to anticipate what's coming. It helps to combat negativity when we have something to get excited about. So ask kids to make a list of what they're looking forward to most. If it's a short road trip, they can start thinking about what they'd like to see, which will help them with an important life skill—travel planning. If it's an upcoming birthday, begin brainstorming ideas on how they'd like to celebrate. It doesn't have to be a big, annual event; looking ahead with excitement can be as simple as, "What are we doing next Friday night?" Again, having something on the horizon to look forward to is a great way to keep everyone moving forward in a positive direction.

For over a decade, Kristen Glosserman—the "Possibility Expert"—has coached numerous successful corporations and individuals to maximize their strengths and capabilities. A Manhattanite who calls the Hamptons her second home, Kristen is co-owner of Hill Country Barbecue Market with her husband Marc; the couple have four children, Austin, Skye, Jaclyn, and Geena. Her first book, If It's Not Right, Go Left, was published in September 2021.

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