Parenting coach can help


La Jolla parents have two opportunities to meet Hilde Gross, a certified family coach and Redirecting Children’s Behavior (RCB) instructor who specializes in home visits.

The first is free seminar on “How to Avoid Everyday Power Struggles” presented Monday, Feb. 11 from 6:15 – 7:45 p.m. at the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.

The second is a free introductory parenting workshop on Feb. 25 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Stella Maris Academy, 7654 Herschel Ave. The school will then offer two five-week workshops, one for parents and one for children.

“Having the tools to effectively deal with children’s behavior, as a parent and as a child, is powerful. These are life skills,” said Patricia Lowell, Stella Maris Academy principal. “During her sessions she presents a wealth of materials and explains the rationale for addressing children’s needs. In addition, Hilde effectively demonstrates how to ‘redirect’ children’s behavior in order to produce a successful outcome.”

Gross has been teaching RCB, an approach developed by Kathryn Kvols, whose strategies and philosophy were strongly influenced by Rudolf Dreikurs, M.D., for more than seven years. Gross uses the fundamentals of the course to give parents practical tips and effective tools to create respectful, healthy family relationships.

After parents who had attended her workshops asked for additional coaching, Gross began offering home visits.

Wendy Alexander, who lives in La Jolla with her 10-year-old son, sought help from Gross after separating from her husband. Facing the challenges of single parenting and the emotional upheaval of divorce, Alexander wanted to gain confidence in her parenting skills.

She chose to meet with Gross in her home for several reasons. It allowed Gross to observe the setting and dynamics between Alexander and her son. On several occasions, Gross actually coached Alexander through tough situations.

“I didn’t have to explain it,” Alexander said. “She saw it.”

Alexander prefers the privacy and one-on-one focus home visits provide. The sessions with Gross keep Alexander focused on her priorities, namely her son.

Mary Sidiropoulus, a single mother with a 7-year-old daughter, has been strengthening her parenting skills through home visits with Gross after participating in one of her workshops.

“The first class I was blown away,” Sidiropoulos said. “I used everything she taught me, and I had the best weekend ever.”

Learning the skills is easy, said Sidiropoulos. Maintaining them is a lot harder. To keep herself from backsliding, she frequently re-reads the RCB handbook and meets with Gross every few weeks.

“The biggest benefit is it brought us closer,” Sidiropoulos said.

That sense of intimacy makes it easier for her to avoid feeling angry or resentful when a situation comes up, since she is able to empathize and validate her daughter’s feelings.

In turn, her daughter is learning to express her feelings with words and ask for what she needs.

One of the most common problems Gross sees is parents not enforcing boundaries

“That’s one of the main things I discover when I go for a home visit,” Gross said, adding that children need to know parents mean business. “That means following through with the consequences at the time, while staying kind and firm.”

The strategies Gross teaches are deceptively simple, yet incredibly effective. The key to success is taking action before a situation arises, so that parents can be proactive instead of reactive.

Negotiation - establishing expectations and predetermining a consequence - eliminates the need for arguments, Gross said, automatically reducing one of parents’ biggest mistakes: talking too much.

Conversely, there are dialogues that parents should be having with children. Asking how a child feels about a situation or letting them suggest solutions to a problem encourages self-confidence, independence and personal accountability.

“That’s what I’m most interested in,” said Sidiropoulos, “so that (my daughter) grows up to be a healthy adult.”

With a client roster that includes pediatricians, marriage and family counselors, psychologists and teachers, Gross said no parent should be ashamed to seek out education.

“It’s important, not because people are bad parents, but because they want to be better parents,” she said. “What parents don’t know or aren’t aware of is we influence a child’s personality now into adulthood with the way we respond and discipline. The child learns the most from the person they love the most: you.”

For additional information, contact Gross at (619) 379-7646 or visit