My financial planning practice focuses on families with young children. Those first families that I worked with in 2008 have babies who are now full-blown teenagers. They are about to apply to college. Parents swap stories of stressful test-prep and college applications. It seems like a frenzy starting junior year, and I want nothing more than to mitigate that type of stress.
So, why not start investing in our teens earlier with coaching? Could a third-party be a better listener to teens than their parents? Is it worth the investment?
Anyone who is a parent knows how expensive the early days of childcare and preschool can be. Annual childcare costs can run $12,000-70,000 depending on where you live and how many hours of care. Once public primary school starts, those costs go way down but do not disappear. Annual activities and camps cost $4,000-6,000 per child. Sports and activities tend to be at school and much less expensive for middle school and high school. If you go the private school route, annual costs remain the same or go up.
The middle school years seem to be a transition period. (I have a 6th grade son). Kids are starting to individuate. They either begin taking ownership of themselves or do what their parents say. Katherine Armstrong, founder of Armstrong Coaching, says, “Getting support for middle schoolers tends to be re-active and only pursued if there is a problem academically or emotionally.” Her business takes a holistic and proactive approach. She has seen the benefits of starting coaching sooner.
Katherine finds that it’s nearly universal that kids and parents aren’t satisfied with their communication – kids feel like they’re being nagged, and parents feel like their message isn’t getting across. . As a third party, she can deliver the same message as the parents but with better results. Her coaching starts with an internal assessment, exploring their likes and dislikes, as a jumping off point to inspire action. Coaching helps keep kids together through the school year, but she believes “summer is the time to be a kid.” Investing in support for your kid’s academic and extracurricular development during the school year means that the whole family can relax and unplug over the summer. When teens spend time doing what they like or have space to figure out what they like, they end up leading to a happier, more well-rounded existence. Coaching from an earlier age could help show a clearer path for teens and better prepare them (and their parents) for the next phase of life.
Katherine’s approach is a potential way to mitigate the stress of junior and senior year well before they start. My 6th grader and 10th grader are very different children. I can see them both benefiting from this type of coaching. I don’t want them stressing about getting into college and losing out on the last years of childhood. They are growing up so quickly, this type of coaching can slow that roll.