COLUMN: There may be more to ‘Yes Parenting’ than meets the eye...

Parenting coaching session with Bea Marshall and  reporter Nik Farah.
Parenting coaching session with Bea Marshall and reporter Nik Farah.
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I met with Sheffield mum Bea Marshall this week - writes columnist Nicola Farah.

Bea is well known in the city for shouting loud and proud about her ‘Yes Parenting’ method, meaning she tries to never say no to her two young sons. This method has earned her raised eyebrows from UK mums, including Lorraine Kelly and Holly Willoughby.

Bea also made a splash in the national press a few years ago when she, rather controversially, gave up wearing shoes, insisting she was happier going through life - whether out to the supermarket, the theatre or walking the dog - barefoot. So I admit I didn’t know what to expect when I knocked on her door a couple of days ago. Would her kids be running amok? Would they be eating ice cream for breakfast and doodling on the walls?

In fact it was a very calm and soothing home environment I found myself stepping in to. As Bea made me a cup of tea, the parenting coach explained that, once upon a time, she herself had been a strict disciplinarian of the ‘super nanny’ variety.

“I was all about time-outs and naughty steps, then one day I decided to try something different,” she relayed simply. She went on to explain that ‘Yes Parenting’ - the name she coined for the method she’s spent the last few years perfecting and now offers coaching in - is about finding the ‘yes’ with your kids. It’s about not shutting them down, or overruling them, but instead trying to facilitate their growth as independent, free-thinking little people.

I was still a little dubious, so Bea asked me what I would change about my day-to-day interactions with my 20-month-old if I could. I explained my little one has just started down the road of ‘terrible-two’ style tantrums and I feel rubbish that I can’t always calm her or reason with her when she gets upset. Bea asked me to imagine myself coming home from work after a truly rubbish day and venting my frustrations to my husband. Then she said: “Now imagine, as you’re mid-rant, your husband holding up his hand and telling you to calm down and be quiet.’ I told her I would hate that. She nodded, then added: “Of course you would, nobody wants their feelings to be unimportant. You’d want him to say ‘that sounds terrible, I’m sorry you’ve had a rubbish day’ and then give you a cuddle. Kids are just the same. They’re trying to tell you something with these toddler tantrums. They don’t want to be told to calm down and be quiet, they want your support and understanding.”

Hmm, maybe this lady was on to something.