Parenting Lesson From Fired NBA Coaches

I struggle writing posts with parenting advice because my kids are only 3 years old. I feel pretty good about our parenting skills, but the true test will be when my kids are adults. At that point we will see just how jacked up they are. All of us are somewhat jacked up. I’m hoping that my parenting theories will help my kids be a little less jacked up than the average bear (said in the voice of Yogi the Bear).

Here is one of my theories that I’m testing out. It comes from the NBA.

I like the NBA. Even though my Lakers stinketh this year I still like it. I had to go King James on that adjective because the Lakers were royally bad this year.

Every year bad teams fire their coach. A lot of times you will see a bad team turn things around with a new coach. It’s weird. Same players. Different coach.

Now when this happens former NBA players who have now turned commentator will say, “The problem with that team is the team is no longer listening to the coaches voice.” When that happens the team has two options. They can get a new coach or the coach can change his tactics. Coaches do not change their tactics so when their players no longer listen to their voice they must get fired.

Now I’ve thought of this since day one of being a parent. If you want to see great examples of parents who have kids that are no longer listening to their voice just go to Wal-Mart. Poor Wal-Mart. It’s so good and yet so filled with awful at the same time. Wal-Mart gets picked on a lot but they made 17 BILLION in profits last year so I think they can take it. I digress.

You’ve seen it though. Parents who are screaming at their kid and their kid is not responding. Why? They have lost their kids. Their voice doesn’t resonate. Now in coaching in the NBA the fix is to get a new voice. Fire the old coach and get someone new in. In parenting it’s not that easy.

So here is what I try to do. Change my voice to get results.

That means that sometimes…

  • We reward good behavior.
  • We discipline with a time out.
  • Sometimes we discipline with a spanking.
  • Sometimes we bribe.
  • Sometimes we comfort when it would be easier to yell.
  • Sometimes we raise our voice.
  • Sometimes we get stern.
  • Sometimes we say the same thing different ways to get a result.

The difficult thing about kids is that each kid is different. Your coaching strategy cannot be the same for every kid. My son is very sensitive and stubborn. He needs pre-coaching and clear expectations laid out for him. My daughter is more easy going but uses her cuteness to manipulate unsuspecting adults. You have to be firm with her but you rarely have to raise your voice.

Now here is the tricky thing about all of this. Kids desire consistency. They do. This is why we set a bed time, get them up at the same time every day (they stay in their beds until we get them), eat around the same time every day, and stick to a somewhat consistent schedule.

The schedule helps their temperament.

We are also consistent with our punishments. My kids know what are felonies and misdemeanors in our house. They cannot say those two words but they get the idea. They know what will get them a time out vs. what will get them a spanking.

But when we are trying to coach our kids we use different tactics. Consistent but we mix things up so that they don’t tune us out.

We cannot change their coach so we have to change our voice. Otherwise we will be the parents yelling at our kids while they ignore us.

But like I said my kids are three and this could be a very awful theory. Only time will tell.

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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.


  1. April 23, 2014

    I am a bit further down the parenting road and totally agree. My son even told me I was his role model. I thought about going all Charles Barkley, but decided that I was glad of that praise.

    • April 23, 2014

      Larry, that’s HUGE! What an awesome thing for a son to say as a teenager.

      • April 24, 2014

        He would rather hang with me than his friends and school chums. It blows my mind.

  2. April 23, 2014

    My main job is nearly done, and although I never had a plan or a clue going in, things have turned out pretty good as far as I can tell. I wonder how much we do vs. how much is the child in terms of how they turn out.

    • shepherdmim
      April 23, 2014

      Good point, Daniel. Some personality types need little guidance. Even though I was a rather active parent, and provided some creative structure for my own survival, kids do have a way of choosing their own paths regardless of what we do or don’t do.

    • April 23, 2014

      Daniel, I think it is both. Some things are just the kids. It’s very similar to coaching in the NBA. The players have God given talent but still need some coaching. I loved watching Phil Jackson as a coach. He would give them a game plan and then not freak out during the games. He would allow his coaching before the game to influence his players during the game. He rarely would yell and he would let players figure it out on their own. I loved watching him not freak out when others would.

  3. Jes
    April 23, 2014

    I get the whole “not qualified to give advice” feeling because even though I have a 12 year old I still feel like a teen mom. We’ve learned a lot just over the past 2 years with our three WILDLY different children. I totally support “changing your voice” and I want to advocate that parents truly get to know their children instead of methodically going through the lists of “ways everyone else parents.” Finding your kids’ currency can be much less stressful with that little step. (Hard learned lesson for the Hills, but it’s getting better!)

  4. shepherdmim
    April 23, 2014

    Been there; done that. Consistency is paramount, but relying on a variety of methods to provide consistency maintains sanity. The rules don’t change, but the consequences may.
    What works at one age or stage may prove ineffective after awhile. Parents frequently need a re-set button (much like coaches) to maintain kid’s attention. Words w/o actions quickly become ineffective and mundane. A full arsenal of creative rewards and consequences help guide behavior–kids or adults.

    • April 23, 2014

      Mim, no doubt. I’ve learned a lot from you and Did.

  5. LindaE
    April 23, 2014

    Don’t you think that in both cases (with the NBA and with kids) they stop listening once they figure out that there are no negative repercussions to ignoring the voice? That’s when parents and coaches lose their “teams,” I think. I’ve seen it so many times (and WalMart’s not exclusive to this) where a parent repeats a command multiple times and when they don’t get the desired result, they say, “I’m going to count to 3.” And I think, “And then what?” The kid knows nothing’s going to happen even if they count to 100, so what incentive does he have to change his behavior? And, you’re right…it needs to be fair, consistent and across the board…even if it means benching King James.


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