How to Use the Cards

Parent Coaching Cards are designed to be used by adults and kids in a variety of ways and within a variety of places.

Click below to learn more:
More information for parents I'm a parent
More information for educators I'm an educator
More information for counselors I'm a counselor
More information for kids I'm a kid

Parents, take note: Coaching is not just for the athletic field, anymore!

"How can I help my child overcome or cope better with this problem?"
"What do I do?"
"What do I say?"

Are these familiar questions when your child is struggling with frustration, teasing, procrastination, inattention or other hurdles? Most of us face these questions, but few find suitable answers. Sometimes a child's problems are rooted in lifelong conditions, such as learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Other times the problems are transitory and rooted in some present life circumstance. No matter their origin our kids' social and emotional difficulties concern us all. Some of these children require specialized help from various professionals. But this doesn't relieve our questions about how we can help.

This backdrop captures the dilemma of many parents today: they devote themselves to providing for so many of their children's needs but when problems arise, a parent's repertoire doesn't normally include tools they can use to enhance their child's capacity to deal with the problem. With time at a premium in today's busy world, many parents don't have the opportunity to delve into long books that offer parenting advice, not necessarily parenting tools.

Parent Coaching Cards function as a compass when family life threatens to spin out of control. Perhaps we're juggling multiple priorities, such as time commitments, dinner preparation, and homework supervision. Or, we're confronted by a distraught child who can't let go of the hurt feelings left inside from a peer's insensitive comment. During these moments it's comforting to have practical parenting tools to turn to. Parent Coaching Cards offer us something helpful and corrective to say, and a solution oriented tool to bring to our kids. They are readily accessible (not buried in a book), written in a language that is both familiar and enticing to children, and combine a compact, coping message within a visually appealing format.

Parent Coaching Cards serve as a foundation point for you and your child to begin to talk about the typical problems that trigger stress at home. These discussions give all family members the opportunity to reflect upon the skills that make for a better life. The instruction packet explains how to "step into the coach's shoes" in order to ensure that your child comes to view you as on their side. Children are more likely to accept help when parents approach them from a nonadversarial "coaching" position rather than a anger induced "policing" position. By making reference to the self-help tools within each card, and suggesting which card relates to the present circumstance, parents reinforce the importance of learning from mistakes, using self-talk to succeed in life, and other self-management skills.

Here are some examples of how parents are currently using Parent Coaching Cards:

During "quiet time," when family life is conducive to constructive dialogue, parent and child trade stories about how the cards apply to each one's life experience.

Following a child's emotional outburst, social disappointment, or other situation evoking strong emotions, parent and child calmly "process" the event by leafing through the cards.

For guidance on how to help your child cope with the many hurdles of growth.

To help children prepare for upcoming events or challenging circumstances that might trigger discomfort and problem behaviors.

To offer "portable" on-the-spot coaching away from home, i.e., car rides, vacations, overnights at relatives, etc.

In many creative, customized ways blending the coloring book and Parent Coaching Cards, parents are making social and emotional skill building a part of family life.


Teachers! Looking for an appealing tool to solve behavior and peer problems?

Teachers often don't have enough time to remediate students' problem behaviors but may confront them on a daily basis. Disruptive behavior, noncompliance, social skills deficiencies, and distractibility are some of the the most common problems disturbing the learning environment in today's classrooms. Punishment techniques are seldom sufficient when attempting to extinguish these problems. One reason for this is that negative consequences strain the relationship between teacher and student, leaving the residue of angry feelings inside the child. This, in turn, sets the stage for more acting out on the part of the child as he/she attempts to use the social environment of the classroom as the stage for "retaliation" against the teacher.

Parent Coaching Cards
offer teachers a tool to turn problem behavior in the classroom into a lesson in social and emotional skills. Teachers use the cards to reinforce the message that problem behaviors interfere with success at school, and in life, and that they can be overcome by strengthening "thinking side" skills. Group activities, such as role-play and scripted skits, can be employed to ensure that students become accustomed to using the skills in real life. Individual assignments, such as maintaining a "coaching journal," ensures that students grasp how self-monitoring keeps their "thinking side" in charge.

Programs employing Parent Coaching Cards within guidance curriculum, and as a tool to bridge the home and school environments, are now in place throughout the country. Parent Coaching classes, led by trained teachers or guidance counselors, strengthen the effectiveness of school-based application. Using the available group training manual, the program ensures that everyone "speaks the same language," and that the goals of social and emotional maturity are more fully achieved.

Please e-mail Dr. Richfield if you wish to explore this possibility at your school, and learn about how he may assist.


Counselors, here's a practical tool that will strengthen your effectiveness!

Child therapists, parent trainers, guidance counselors, and others are regularly confronted by the need for effective and practical tools to help children and guide parents. Children may begin to feel better once they talk out problems and receive support, but this doesn't necessarily lead to behavior change. Many times the "shelf life" of your help is short because kids have nothing tangible to take with them. In fact, it was just this common therapeutic scenario that led to the development of Parent Coaching Cards.

Parent Coaching Cards were inspired by children receiving psychotherapy treatment. They were having trouble in school, at home, and among their peers. Parents and teachers were asking for answers about how to help them in the circumstances that often triggered social and emotional problems. There was a need for tools to enhance children's functioning. These tools needed to be readily accessible, appealing to kids, and above all, practical and relevant to the immediate circumstances in children's lives.

Out of these needs arose Parent Coaching Cards. The first "home-made" edition was completed in 1996. Mental health professionals first learned about them in April, 1997 when world-renowned ADHD expert, Dr. Russell Barkley, invited Dr. Richfield to contribute an article to the ADHD Report. This article led to calls from colleagues throughout the United States and internationally. An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer in June, 1997 generated even more interest, especially when it was transmitted by news wire to newspapers across the country.

It soon became clear that the cards were finding an eager audience among the general parent population, preventively minded teachers and guidance counselors, and counseling professionals throughout the world. After receiving several hundred requests for the first edition of Parent Coaching Cards, Dr. Richfield enlisted the talents of a graphic designer to create the attractive, kid-friendly product currently available.

Here are some of the ways that Parent Coaching Cards are currently being used by counselors:

In individual psychotherapy treatment, Parent Coaching Cards are ideally suited to address the skill problems commonly seen in children manifesting Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorders, and Anxiety Disorders.

Children who are less verbally productive in psychotherapy find Parent Coaching Cards provide a safe place for them to become more self-aware and socially and emotionally competent.

Parent Coaching Cards are very well suited to structured therapeutic programs, such as focused skills training therapies, where psychoeducational materials are used to fortify retention and generalizability.

Parent Coaching Cards strengthen programs catering to parents, such as therapeutic foster care, by empowering them with corrective, rather than punitive, disciplinary tools.

In preventive based therapeutic services, Parent Coaching Cards are a useful adjunct to more comprehensive primary prevention programs.

Their ease of application and "portable" nature makes Parent Coaching Cards easily adapted for a variety of uses by the resourceful clinician.


Kids, here's some tools to make life run more smoothly!

All kids have ups and downs. Good times occur when you have fun, get what you want, and succeed at things. Wouldn't it be great if life could always be this way?But, hard times come around, too. Sometimes hard times come in big ways, like failing a test, losing a friend, or getting into trouble for something you've done or said. These situations can be caused by not planning ahead, saying the wrong words to others, or making the wrong decisions at home or school. Wouldn't it be great if you could stop most of these bad things from happening so you didn't have to deal with all those tough consequences?

My job involves helping kids who go through a lot of hard times. I'm a child psychologist. For over thirty years I have been listening to kids tell me about the kind of hard times they face day in and day out. (Before that I was a kid facing a lot of those same hard times!) Even though I have given kids many ideas about how to solve their problems I have also been given many ideas from kids. Some of the most important ideas came from kids who told me that they wanted me to write down things I said so that they could read the messages to themselves whenever they wanted. This led me to start creating cards that kids took home with them, and even brought to school when it was okay with their teacher. These cards explained how to "think through" problems they were having so that the kids wouldn't get so trapped in their problems anymore. This is how Parent Coaching Cards began.

Parent Coaching Cards are now more than just words on cards. They are a system for kids to use at home, and sometimes at school. Kids learn how to be better at controlling feelings, making and keeping friends, being more successful at a lot of different stuff, getting along better with parents, brothers, and sisters, and other important skills. I use the word "skills" because Parent Coaching Cards show kids how their ability to deal with feelings and social situations are skills that can be improved upon. One example of this is the kid who loses at a baseball game, and then refuses to shake hands with the other team. He or she is allowing feelings to get in their way of doing the right thing. And, because they don't shake hands, many kids will notice, and this will probably hurt them socially.

Parent Coaching Cards take situations like the no-shake example and give kids thinking tools to take charge of their feelings. Each card focuses on situations that kids deal with every day, both at home and school, and explains how kids can keep their "thinking side" in charge to make life run more smoothly.

Click on the "Examples" page to learn more.

Here are some of the ways that kids are making use of Parent Coaching Cards:

When kids are arguing or not getting along with family members, kids review their cards to prevent bad consequences from happening.

When kids are getting ready for an important event, like visiting a friend or going to camp, they read those cards that remind them of which skills to bring with them.

When kids are in the middle of some tough situation, like getting teased on the bus or not being invited to a friend's house, they remember the coaching messages they need to deal with it.

When kids are not able to put their ideas and feelings into words, they use the cards to better understand themselves, and also explain what's going on to parents or teachers.

When kids are trying to solve problems with other kids, such as friends or family members, they use the cards to suggest what might be going wrong and how to correct the trouble.

To learn how other kids use the cards to solve similar problems kids join the Coaching Cards KidsClub, and receive a newsletter, read the "kidcoaching" stories, and submit their own.


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