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School Success

Read about Nita and see more articles from her.

School SuccessAs new articles pop up every day about what is needed for school success, I tend to look at school success from a coaching perspective.

In coaching my clients, I use Appreciative Inquiry techniques.  Appreciative Inquiry is an organizational methodology that studies what gives life to human systems when they are at their best. The technique was developed by David Coorperider and Suresh Srivastava at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio USA.  The process consists of a 4-D cycle: Discover, Dream, Design, and Destiny.

Discover is the identification of what processes work well.

Dream is the envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.

Design is the planning and prioritizing of the processes that would well.

Destiny is the implementation of the processes.

If I apply Appreciative Inquiry and the 4-D’s to school success, I will first discover what is working well for my child. I will inquire about successes and tie them to feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment, achievement, and capability.

After this, I move to Dream and inquire from the child what he/she would like to achieve for the academic year.  I would like to tease out a ‘big picture’ idea as well as break down by subject.

Next, comes Design.  Let’s figure out together how you are going to achieve your dream.  We can put together weekly / monthly benchmarks that will lead to what the child would like to gain from this academic year.

Finally in Destiny we can implement what we have discussed and occasionally reflect back to where the child was the previous academic year versus where he / she is now.

Through out the entire cycle, I praise the effort the child takes to achieve his/ her goals for academic success.  By praising the effort and not necessarily the outcome, the child is more likely to learn from setbacks instead of being discouraged.

What I value about approaching school success from an Appreciative Inquiry stance is that I enter without judgment, I ask questions of the child out of curiosity, and most importantly, the child and I collaborate on what school success looks like and how to get there; i.e. the child takes ownership.

Now for those of you who respond to ‘how to’ lists a few things that have proven to enhance school success are as follows:

1.     Create a homework center; set aside a specific place where you child can do homework.  Make sure that the space is stocked with supplies such as pencils, an eraser, a dictionary, a stapler, a ruler, and some paper.

2.     Make sure your child has had a snack and drink prior to doing homework.

3.     Try and do homework at the same time every day.  It is also a good idea to insure some down time is ‘scheduled’ after homework.

4.     Some children need quiet, but others enjoy and make better use of time while listening to certain types of music. Research shows Baroque music promotes learning and productivity.

5.     Be available. Let your child feel that you are there to support him/her as well as answer questions as needed. Depending on the age of your child, it is not necessary to sit with your child while he/she does homework.  The goal is to work towards independence.

6.     Praise the effort your child has put into the assignment. Many studies of shown praising effort leads to resilience and a belief that with hard work tasks can be accomplished.  (Yes, I know this was mentioned above as well.  It is important enough to mention twice.)

To sum up from a coaching perspective, keep in mind the following from Deepak Chopra.

The earlier someone is taught how to live in the most effortless, harmonious, and creative way, the more likely it is that all of life will bring success.

About the Author: Nita has lived in Holland and India and currently resides in Seattle, WA USA. She is a PCI certified parent coach. To contact Nita or find out more about her please visit

School Success

A Father's Story

Father's day picI have had the pleasure of coaching fathers and getting an insight into an example of wonderful father-child relationships.  One such father remains in the forefront of my mind as I work with other fathers. When we started Sanjay was 43 years old.  He is a father of 4 children whose ages ranges from 14 to 6. Sanjay is a businessman and had worked many, many hours when his two oldest children were young. He recently changed jobs and was evaluating his next steps in life.

Sanjay’s interest in coaching included improving himself and learning more about being a parent.  He felt that times have changed in the last 14 years since his eldest child was born. Through coaching Sanjay wanted to learn and understand new ways of parenting, deal with future situations better, and have a greater relationship with his kids.

Initially, we discussed what Sanjay’s appreciated about his current situation.  He said he appreciated that he now has the time to build the relationship of his desires with his children.  His new job situation allowed him to be in a position to focus on other things. He is open to new learning, is willing to look at things differently, and feels that parenting is amongst his top three priorities in life.  He wants to do better in life and believes that if the relationships with his kids are decent, it provides the foundation to build upon. He was beginning a new chapter in his life and was trying to figure it out.  He felt strongly that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and kids as well as find some new passion to pursue.  In general, he is a very disciplined person .  When he was younger he was involved in sports in a big way and lived a very disciplined life in order to succeed in his endeavors. Since the change in jobs, he is not required to be at the office every morning.  He doesn’t have the same stresses as he had before.  He really wants to determine how he is going to structure his life and also pursue his desire to better his relationship with his children. What he appreciated the most was that for the first time in his life he owned his own time. He said it felt liberating.

He feels that having four children is pretty challenging in today's world . He also felt his challenges involved the age difference between his oldest and youngest and the fact that on a daily level there are so many distractions for both parents and children. These distractions include gadgets, computers, and video games.  He stated that he felt these distractions might be a roadblock to a better relationships.  He also mentioned that he and his wife were brought up differently and have different parenting styles. Finally, he was concerned with the generation gap between parents and children. He said that at times it felt as if his older two children acted as parents to his youngest child.  He felt good about that as they were building a strong relationship.  He wanted to insure that he could relate to his younger children and his two oldest children at the same time.

His oldest was facing  ‘real’ exams for the first time.  The results determine how you will pursue the next couple of years.  Some students finish after tenth grade and enter some type of junior college.  Sanjay was concerned about how his eldest child would cope with the hard work required. His second child was just coming into his own. The younger children were showing early talent in art and athletics. The family questions if the youngest child will follow in his father’s footsteps.  Sanjay wonders how to nurture the talent without pushing his child.
At the beginning of our coaching conversations it became clear that Sanjay was very disciplined and held himself to high standards.  He showed respect for his time as well as the time of others.  He thoughtfully answered questions. He also felt blessed about his life.  His heart was in the right place when it came to his family.

I discovered that Sanjay had a passion for having family meals together.  His struggle was that as his children grew and had lives of their own, it was not always possible.  He mentioned that they talked a lot during these family mealtimes.  He also mentioned that he sometimes had serious conversations with his eldest child.  These serious conversations led to a feeling of discomfort and arguments.  Sanjay and his wife decided to change tactics for the dinner table.  He decided to simply discuss the day’s events as well as try to incorporate some humor.  He recognized that serious conversations could happen in private and not around the dinner table.

As our coaching conversations continued, it became clear that his approach was not necessarily received as his intention when it came to working with his children.  This was something that we discussed in great length.  His approach was very direct and his children received most of his conversations as lectures. Sanjay shared a story of when he was talking with his older two children and they started yawning, looked bored, and tried to find an excuse to get out of the conversation.   He was trying so hard to connect with his kids. We discussed some typical characteristics of the teen years. We discussed how people learn differently and he knew that his children did all have different learning styles. This led to conversations about how people communicate differently as well.  This then led to his communication style with his children.  Maybe his approach needed to be different? We also discussed the power of the question. When he questions his children about something, what words does he use?  Are his questions leading or are they open enough for the child to respond as he or she feels? Discussing how questions are posed was an interesting conversation with Sanjay as he said it was something he thought about carefully when working with a colleague but had not thought about how he puts a question together when he speaks with his children. Once this realization hit, I felt a release of tension within him.  This realization caused a shift in attitude and action.

Through the coaching process Sanjay’s awareness increased, his relationships with his children deepened, he gained ability to look at situations from different perspectives, and he realized that his parenting techniques with each child should be tailored to that specific child.
Sanjay is a great storyteller, which was a wonderful way for me, as a coach, to become aware of so many nuances in his life.  As this was something that he showed interest in, it was fairly easy for me to incorporate story telling with him when he felt ‘stuck’ or ‘over-whelmed’ by a situation. The result of using this strategy is that it provided a really nice back and forth conversation as well as a co-constructive avenue for homework and action steps. As a coach, I appreciated the level of trust and openness he had in sharing these stories with me.
An interesting thing about Sanjay is that he felt so blessed with his life and took a moment to appreciate it every day.  As we talked, I wondered if he had ever shown his children this practice of his.  He said that he had not, but would be willing to try it. One day, he did try it at dinner and it was received with mixed reviews.  Sanjay is very direct in his approach! But, he kept it up with a modification in approach and eventually all his children joined in.  He said it was a nice shift in conversation and also in feeling.  I feel that this strategy resulted in Sanjay modeling for his children in a way that he had always wanted to.  The implication of using appreciation practices was realized by Sanjay when he commented that if his children were able to incorporate appreciation practices into their lives at such an early age, they would be far more balanced and in line with their true selves as adults.

When Sanjay realized that his intention was not being received as he desire, he acknowledged that he needed to re-frame so that his children would be more open to receiving his communication.  Re-framing resulted in greater communication and more openness with his children.  One example of this is when he approached his middle child to find out what he thought of him as a father and what he thought of their relationship.  Previously, he may have asked ‘Don’t you think we have a good relationship?” After our conversations, he asked, ‘What do you think of our relationship?’  It is a subtle change but in doing this he left the door open for honesty and the ability voice true feelings.  The implications of this will stay with Sanjay for a long-time and has shifted his perspective in communication with his children as they grow through their teen years.

One of Sanjay’s strengths is that he had an amazing childhood and is able to draw upon that experience in parenting his children. In light of this strength, we were able to increase awareness in so many areas to reflect upon ‘Is this action, Are these words, Is this approach going to give my children a feeling of having an amazing childhood?  What are they going to remember and walk away with as a result of my action today?’

Sanjay’s childhood is a strong influence of his current parenting. He loved his childhood and had such fond memories of it. Through our conversations, he is wondering if setting up life for his children as per his own childhood was providing them the same thing that it provided him.  As we are all living systems and we are all individuals, we should not expect that if we duplicate things exactly they would end in the same result. Once Sanjay understood this, he became very open and flexible in adjusting things as per the needs of the children, his wife, and himself. 

Once Sanjay mentioned that his older two children (teenagers) sensed that their father was behaving differently and were not sure how to take it at first.  Through coaching he not only changed his approach to each child, he also thought about the words he wanted to use in communicating with his family. These are a couple of things that his children noticed about him.
Towards the end of our sessions, Sanjay and his family went on a long holiday. Before the adventure, I had spoken with Sanjay about what we wanted out of it for himself and his family.  He simply stated that he wanted to be there for his family.  Taking this type of trip was significant for Sanjay and his family as they would be alone without extended family and without the customary extended help available in India for the first time. After his return, we chatted again and Sanjay said that the number one thing that came from the trip was the amount and quality of time that he spent with his family.  He observed each of his children flourish in different ways and he loved the bond that they developed as a nuclear family.

I truly believe that through coaching, Sanjay experienced an internal shift was has allowed him to become more aware, more accepting, and really live his value of building and sustaining strong relationships with his children.
* Story printed with the consent of Sanjay

A Father's Story

Bonding with older child

Bonding with older childOne way I maintain a bond with my almost 7th grade son . . . . . .

As my child grew from baby to toddlerhood and then into his primary years at school, it was fairly easy to keep a strong bond. Our relationship consisted of lots of hugs, cuddles, playing together, eating and more eating, going to the park, and in general, just being present. Now that my son is in middle school, I had to change my tactics. Hugs and cuddles are not necessarily appreciated by tweens and teens, especially in public.

I have always taken an interest in what my children are doing in school, in sports, and in any extra-curricular activity they do. I I have been more of a supporter rather than an active player in the subject. Then, when my son entered 4th grade the game changed and I became an active participant. My son became passionate about reading. He was always an avid reader, but it got kicked up a notch in 4th grade. It all started with Roald Dahl’s Matilda. My son had to read it for school and was studying the details of the story. I had read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl when I was a kid and really enjoyed it. My son asked if I had read Matilda. I had not and he asked me if I would be interested in reading it. I said sure. This started our wonderful adventure of reading the same books.

Over the last few years, because of my son, I have read the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, The Conch Bearer by Divakaruni, The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John and most recently Totally Joe by James Howe to name just a few. Each book has opened by eyes to the nuances of a tween’s life. In addition, my son and I can discuss aspects of a book or story. Totally Joe for example is about a 7th grader writing an alpha-biography throughout the school year. The main character presents himself with entries from A to Z. The book explores how Joe (the main character) comes to terms with being gay as well as falling in love, breaking up, and learning to stand up for himself. I am so glad that my son and I had this relationship of reading the same books so that we could discuss this one as well. Through our relationship, I have influenced my son’s reading as well.

Through my suggestions, he has read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin as well as classics such as The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

I continue to support my children in their individual endeavors but feel happy that I am an active participant in this one passion of my son’s. I am excited to find out what books he will want to read in the next couple of years and am happy that we continue to have this bond as he grows through middle school. I also realize that as he enters high school and college, I will have to grow as well and find other ways in which to bond.

Bonding with older child

Certified Parent Coach

Nita Talwar

Nita Chhatwani Talwar's Articles


New Year's Resolutions: Children and Parents

School Success

Parenting Authentically....It Works For Me



Personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, and career coaching are all new career options that have emerged in the last decade. Coaching is currently an unregulated field and its best to hire a coach that has been certified by a reputable university. I was unaware of coaching until my life circumstances led me to pursue it as a vocation. Now I am a Certified Parent Coach. My certification comes from the Parent Coaching Institute in conjunction with Seattle Pacific University in Bellevue, Washington USA. I earned my certification while I was living in India. 


Coaching is different from counseling, therapy, and consulting.  Counseling and therapy offer a problem-solving methodology, consulting offers an expertise methodology. Dr. Brenda Wilkins who is one of the foremost researchers on coaching, defines coaching as 'a relationship with a client where a coach supports, collaborates with and facilitates client learning, by helping a client to identify and achieve future goals through assessment, discovery, reflection, goal setting and strategic action.'


Parent coaching is a relationship between the coach and the client to foster the client's dreams of family related growth through honest communication and active participation. The coach will help the client clarify goals by asking questions the client may not have thought of, provide guidance by listening non-judgmentally, and enable action by providing relevant information to implement strategies designed with the client's values in mind.  Parent coaching is an art and a practice that inspires, energizes, and facilitates learning and development of the client and the client's family.


As coaching is a new profession, I never thought much about it when I was growing up.  I went to university to be in the fashion industry. My first job was for a fashion designer in New York City.  After that, I specialized in product development and worked for some of the largest retailers and wholesalers in the world. I traveled extensively within the United States and abroad. After my marriage, my husband, a management consultant, also traveled extensively and we had fun meeting in new locations.


I realized that I was pregnant with my first child just as I was about to embark on a ‘Habitat for Humanity’ project in New Zealand. Due to the conditions of the trip, I was urged to cancel. I enjoyed my pregnancy and it was a complete shock when I went into labor and gave birth at 33 weeks pregnant. My son weighed 4 lbs 9 oz at birth and was admitted to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for 2 weeks. I don't think that one can ever be prepared for such things. It was strange leaving the hospital without my baby. I did end up spending many, many hours at the hospital during those 2 weeks. With the help of my husband, family, and friends, I navigated those early years.


A few years later, I became pregnant again. For some reason that I cannot remember, I chose to have a doula. Fairly soon, we discovered that I was carrying twins  . . . a boy and a girl. At this point, we switched to an obstetrician.  Soon thereafter, we found out that the boy was not doing well and so we switched to a Perinatologist (high risk pregnancy doctor). My son had a few physical defects as well as an AV (atreoventricular) defect. He had a large hole in the center of his heart.  After multiple medical check ups and meetings with a genetic counselor, we were told that my son needed to be 6 pounds at birth and undergo immediate surgery. If he was under that weight, he would have to go to hospice. I cannot describe the emotional roller coaster I was on. Then, at 22 weeks, my son passed away in utero. My daughter was still growing strong and all the ultrasounds revealed that she was a healthy baby. Mentally, I had a hard time dealing with this situation. This may have been one of the reasons that I went into pre-term labor at 30 weeks. As it turned out, during the pre-term labor, my daughter's heart beat slowed down considerably.  I ended up being put under general anesthesia and having an emergency C-section in the operating room. My daughter was born 10 weeks early at 3 lbs 8 oz, and with a small hole in her heart, an ASD (Atrial Septal Defect). Even though I was familiar with the NICU, this experience was much different than when my son was born. For my son, I was told to perform kangaroo care (skin to skin holding) for 3 hours at a time. For my daughter, I was not allowed to touch her for the first few weeks as she was so frail. She was in the NICU for 6 weeks. We monitored her heart every 6 months until she was 3 years old when she received a green light from the pediatric cardiologist. Again, with the help of my husband, family, and friends I was able to navigate those early years.


My experiences with premature labor and childbirth led me to volunteer for the March of Dimes. I became a NICU Family Advisory Council Member and Parent Advisor. I also became a board member of Precious Beginnings, an NGO that provided parent to parent support to families who had pre-mature children. I would say childbirth and the experience of having premature children was the first step in my transformation from a fashion product developer to a certified parent coach.


My coaching practice is called Peak Experience Parenting.  Peak Experience is a term coined by Abraham Maslow, a professor of psychology.  He says a peak experience is one that creates sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, even the awareness of an 'ultimate truth' and the unity of all things. As a parent coach, my goal is to help the parent reach peak experiences of interconnectedness, harmony, and happiness. Specifically, I will help the parent tune into his or her values and be authentic in parenting; discover his or her unique parenting style and understand unique strengths and challenges; discover creative ways to support the day-to-day aspects of life; and take care of oneself so that you have more to give as a parent.


I work with parents on challenges they may have with their child(ren). My areas of interest include parent / child relationships, behavior issues, ages and stages, school-related concerns, media-related influences and many more. I work with all different kinds of families and have special experience working with families that are globally mobile and/or in intercultural relationships. When partners are raised in different cultures, they face unique parenting challenges. I help parents foster awareness and an appreciation of each other's cultural differences so they can raise their children in a way that brings true authenticity and fulfillment to each member of the family.


We all feel overwhelmed at times or wish that we had a partner to guide us along the parenting journey. A certified parent coach provides you that support, guidance, and resources, while together you create positive changes.


For further information, interest in finding about parent coaching as a vocation, or for being coached, Nita can be reached through Please send her a private message through the Contact Nita page. Nita is able to call you, regardless of where in the world you may live. 

Certified Parent Coach

Parenting Authentically... It Works for Me

Read about Nita and see more articles from her.

Annapurna Base CampThe journey of parenting has taught me that my children and I will be okay as long as I am authentic to my values and myself.This insight came to me in the Himalayan Mountains, during my trek to Annapurna Base Camp.I was not prepared for the trek. I had not trained nor had I ever trekked before. It was a 12-day journey up to 14,500 feet where I felt completely overwhelmed and was wondering why I had chosen this journey. As hard as the trail was day in and day out, when I reached the ‘peak’, Annapurna Base Camp in this case, I felt at one with the world.I felt joyful and happy. I was aware and fully present. I compare my journey to ABC and the feelings I experienced during the trek and also when I reached the base camp to my journey of parenting. Many of us enter into parenting with little or no knowledge of the journey and only when focusing inward do we experience our own moments of joy in our parenting.
They say that when trekking in the mountains for days and weeks at altitudes so high there are huge risk factors is life changing. This was the case for me as well. During my trek I had time to tune into myself and listen to my inner voice without the distractions of every day life. Once I left the mountains behind me and returned to the daily grind, I slowly started incorporating steps that would allow me the space to turn inward and be authentic.
A few steps I take which help me and may also help you are:

1. Assess your mental, spiritual, and physical state of being.Ask yourself if you feel in balance? Do you feel that your reserves are full?If not, what will it take to make you feel more in balance or more able to handle what comes your way.

2. Practice the power of ‘pause.’Try pausing before taking action and ask yourself is this in line with my values?

3. Reframe: Try re-framing the situation to determine what you or your children can learn from it.

4. Address the concern: Try not to ignore your concern or the concern of your child. Talk about it. Open the lines of communication.

5. Set boundaries: Try to be consistent in setting boundaries that are in line with your values.

6. Be gentle with yourself: Parenting is a journey and the landscape is different from when your parents were raising you. Try and take some ‘me’ time to recharge.

As I practice the 6 things above, I feel more joyful and am truly enjoying the parenting journey. By taking time to be authentic, I feel what Marcel Proust says, ‘The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’

About the Author: Nita has lived in Holland and India and currently resides in Seattle, WA USA. She is a certified parent coach. To contact Nita or find out more about her please visit

Parenting Authentically... It Works for Me

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