How Parenting Coaches Work

Parenting Coaching 101

Parenting coaches may assess parent-child dynamics in person and form their recommendations from those observations.
Parenting coaches may assess parent-child dynamics in person and form their recommendations from those observations.
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Parent coaches started springing up in the United States and Canada in the early 2000s, right around the time when reality television shows about Mary Poppins-like "super nannies" -- who swoop into homes to tame problem children and powerless parents -- competed for ratings [source: Rosenberg]. Those specialized coaching services weren't necessarily a byproduct of the TV nanny trend, but they're similarly modeled on the idea of injecting hands-on child rearing expertise into parenting. But while the nannies portrayed on-screen came with resumes replete with extensive childcare credentials, the backgrounds of parenting coaches can be far more diverse.

Many parent coaches transition to the field from early education, social work and child psychology careers [source: Kuchment]. For example, Gloria DeGaetano founded the Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) in 2000 after years of teaching in grade school- and college-level classrooms [source: Parent Coaching Institute]. Prospective coaches who complete DeGaetano's year-long distance learning coursework also are required to have at least two years of prior experience working with parents in some capacity to be accepted into the program, which focuses on understanding parenting styles and honing coaching techniques. Meanwhile, plenty of parent coaches also come from a variety of jobs unrelated to family development and childcare, and may not have been formally trained as mentors. Some may simply base their coaching on their own parenting practices [source: Good Morning America]. For that reason, savvy moms and dads interested in investing in this type of help ought to investigate coaches' credibility before hiring.

Coaching often starts with an hour-long phone or in-home consultation that allows the parenting mentor to identify problem areas, such as a child's persistent disobedience to household rules; set goals, such as successful potty training; and build rapport with the child-weary client. From there, specific coaching models and follow-up check-ins will vary, depending on the individual practice and the severity of the parenting conundrum. In addition to addressing specific child-rearing dilemmas, coaches encourage parents to pay more attention to their own self-care -- in other words, finding more relaxation and self-confidence in exercising their authority.

The cost of parent coaching varies, with initial intake sessions running about $100. From there, monthly or weekly sessions are either billed by the hour -- $75 per hour is a commonly cited price point -- or as a flat rate, generally $250 or $300 per month. Though that only adds to the already steep of costs raising kids, according to one survey from a parent coaching practice, people are willing to pay between $125 to $149 for a single session, and 15 percent of respondents said the reassurance and calm they derive from the paid guidance is priceless [source:]. And when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of parent coaching, that peace of mind is one of the most commonly cited benefits.