By Julie A Cajigas
Have you ever had a moment when your frustration with parenting just came to a head?
Maybe you were trying the bare bottom method and after the recommended three days with no underwear, your child created a cave painting on their wall (if you’ve done the bare bottom method of potty training, you know what I’m talking about).
Maybe your child’s preschool teacher has come to the car at pick-up every day this week with bad behavior news.
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Maybe you’re exhausted from relatives telling you that if you’re consistent with time-outs, your child will suddenly behave, but nothing seems to work.
If you’re like me, you’ve reached out and asked for help from your parenting network, but sometimes it’s hard to know which advice to follow.
If the problems were at work or in your personal life, you might hire a career or life coach to help you sort out your challenges. If only there was a parenting coach to listen, guide and motivate you through some of parenthood’s peaks and valleys.
If that sounds like a dream come true, you’re in luck.
If you live in the Akron-area, or in one of 11 surrounding counties, there is a parenting coach you can reach out to for help with anything from potty training to school performance.
The coach’s name is Emily Baughman, and she serves as the coordinator of parent engagement at the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) in Canton, where she oversees parent coaching and parenting education.
Baughman is the first person many parents speak to when they call the resource center. “Parenting questions come to me,” she said. She encourages any parent who needs help with any aspect of parenting to reach out and call.
When calls come in, sometimes self-referred, and sometimes referred from another organization, Baughman connects as a fellow parent.
“I’m a mom first and foremost,” Baughman said. “The first thing I do is try to get to know the parent and identify their needs. I always try to target the present need or crisis the parent is experiencing. Sometimes that’s ‘I’m having trouble getting my kids to bed on time,’ and other times it’s ‘I need help communicating with my child’s teacher.’”
When it comes to one-on-one coaching, Baughman says she’s not giving advice all day. “I say listen, let’s just process what you’re going through because it’s unique to you.”
Then, she helps parents take a step forward.
“I tell parents, let’s see how we can help you get through it, because you’ll get through it,” she adds.
Baughman’s coaching style is based on empathy. “I tell my parenting stories while talking with moms and dad about the mistakes I’ve made,” Baughman said. “Some of them I didn’t know were mistakes until my children told me about them after they were grown.”
Another approach Baughman takes is to help parents identify their top three values and prioritize them.
She even listened to my COVID-19 stressors during the interview and suggested that it’s OK for me to de-prioritize something like laundry, so I can prioritize the kids’ remote education and spending time with them.
“Everyone’s values change frequently depending on the circumstances,” Baughman said, “and everything comes secondary to your immediate focus.”
That permission from the coach brought instant relief from the mom guilt I had been carrying around about the baskets of unfolded clean laundry littering the house. By the time I finished interviewing her, I was ready to set up a coaching session for myself.
For those who need more than coaching, Baughman also works hard to connect them with other community resources and agencies. “I link myself with agencies and organizations and develop relationships with individuals there so I can refer my families directly to someone that I’ve spoken to,” she said.
Though the one-on-one coaching service Baughman provides is undoubtedly unique and something I didn’t expect to find on my SOS journey, it’s also important to note that the Early Childhood Resource Center has an amazing wealth of resources and offerings.
The ECRC offers services to parents from 11 nearby counties including parent education courses, a children’s library, a fatherhood series, Parenting Café support group meetings, an inspiration station play area for families, and even car seat safety help.
All ECRC services are free and open to any interested parents who reach out to the center. And for Baughman’s programs, free on-site childcare is provided.
She noted that many times parents looking for resources or parenting education relied on access to childcare in order to do so.
In addition to coaching, Baughman also oversees a parenting education series called Active Parenting Now. It features two to three-hour parenting education sessions on topics such as parenting styles, getting and giving respect, understanding children’s feelings, teaching responsibility, and helpful positive discipline techniques.
Speaking of support groups (as we have been for three weeks now), the ECRC also offers a Parent Café support group experience, where according to their website, parents connect, share, and learn from each other. Parent Café sessions feature “table topics,” which encourage meaningful, judgment-free, positive interaction.
The ECRC also serves as a child care referral agency. They take information about the parents’ requirements like a tight budget, availability during the night shift, or specific qualifications, and they find available childcare that meets all the criteria. “We can refer childcare to meet the parent’s needs,” she said.
Baughman said the center is planning to host a virtual Parent Café soon, and parenting classes are currently happening in person on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Canton location.
The center asks that parents enter the facility with masks on and notes that classes will be socially distanced.
Parents who are interested in either event, one-on-one coaching with Emily Baughman, or any of the services mentioned in the article, can call the center at 1-877-691-8521 to register.
“Parents should call and ask for whatever they need,” Baughman said. “We never turn anyone away.”
To learn more about the Early Childhood Resource Center’s coaching, parenting classes and other resources and services, visit their website.
Julie is a mother of three and Professor of Practice at The University of Akron. Her hobbies include singing in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Instagramming her kids and sleeping standing up.
Photo: Courtesy of the Early Child Resource Center