Coaching Children To Be Their Best

By Bailey Beckett

Life coaches are the perfect accessory for success-minded people, or those just looking for a positive change in their lives or careers. But for children? Welcome to Elite Method, a new program designed by husband and wife team Michael and Rachel Dube. It provides a new concept providing kids and teens with coaches to help build confidence, self-esteem, socialization skills, and physical and mental fitness through sports skills.

The program is targeted to parents looking to give their kids an early “success plan” they can apply to every aspect of their lives, from the playground to the field, classroom, social life, and even family life. “We are a private coaching program for children that combines physical skills development and confidence coaching,” says Rachel. “Our goal is to help every child push the limits of their potential. Elite Method takes a highly customized approach to work with every child to build on their strengths and unique personalities.”

Serving families throughout the New York City/New Jersey area, the program currently staffs 16 coaches—all with experience working with kids, physical fitness, and social/emotional development—that Elite Method that matches with the significant needs of children who enroll. “We have every type of child in this program,” continues Mike. “After all, who doesn’t need a confidence boost and an edge in today’s age? Our clients range from kids who are afraid to catch a ball to those who are super athletes on school teams. Both types of children can often lack confidence and have social skills challenges. Whether the issue is impulse control, shyness, hyper-competitiveness, lack of focus, or anything else, we identify the specific challenges and work on addressing them. Our youngest client is four and our oldest is 16.”

The science is clear: this method works. In a joint research project by the Aspen Institute and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Easel Lab, it was found participation in sports has also been associated with a variety of social and emotional competencies. Children with strong social and emotional skills are more likely to have positive work and family relationships, graduate college, succeed in their careers, and have better mental and physical health outcomes.

The study also found that physical activity provides youth with opportunities to build self-efficacy and perceived competence. Participation in physical activity provides opportunities for participants to learn and use critical social, emotional, and cognitive skills that ultimately improve performance and well-being in sports, school, and life.

It’s that science, and years of in-the-field experience they developed from their previous sports programming business, Dubezone, that inspired the couple to create Elite Method. “In that time, working with thousands of children, I learned a tremendous amount about what makes some kids successful and left others struggling. It became clear that helping a child develop sports skills was wonderful and important, but it didn’t address the core issue of boosting a child’s confidence and helping them navigate an often-confusing world. Confidence is what gives kids the ability to feel good in their own skin and to want to make their mark on this world. I was determined to create a program that combined both fundamental sports skills training with a social/emotional component that would allow children to develop their social skills and confidence. Children need to feel good on the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside,’” says Rachel.

Finding the right coaches is an elaborate process with several screening levels—including an extensive background check and review of how they interact with children.

“Our coaches are truly the heart and soul of our business,” Mike says. “They come to us with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We have PhDs and grad students, physical education instructors, mental health workers, personal trainers, and teachers. They all have years of experience working and relating with children of a variety of ages and skills. Additionally, all have an advanced level of athleticism and knowledge on how to teach children sports and fitness properly.”

The Dubes don’t need scientific journals to tell them their method works. They see it before their eyes. “Our success can be attributed to two factors,” Rachel explains. “First is the extraordinary amount of work that went into the development of the methodologies we use in this program. We spent 18 months collaborating with the best specialists and experts in child development before we ever took our first client. We incorporated best practices from fields such as child psychology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

“Second, is the phenomenal work our coaches do in truly getting to know every child and what drives them,” Rachel continued. “They observe and listen attentively. They don’t judge and they are solely focused on giving every child whatever support it is that they need to feel more confident and content with who they are. They are mentors, cheerleaders, and advocates. Watching these relationships blossom has been very moving and hearing from parents how their child has made great strides is incredibly rewarding. The testimonials from parents inspire us to work even harder and continue to innovate and support as many kids as we can!”

But the husband and wife are not resting on their laurels. As the company grows—Miami, LA, Chicago, and Dallas are next—they are always fine-tuning and improving.

“There is also a tremendous amount of work being done behind the scenes by our staff and coaches,” Rachel says proudly. “All kinds of data analysis, lesson plan, and curriculum development, progress tracking, report writing, etc. Communication is a key part of our program. These reports are an invaluable tool for parents to get a true understanding of their child’s development and progress by an objective third party. Parents can also choose to share these reports with any other professionals working with their child, including doctors, therapists, or schoolteachers. Collaborating with the clients’ entire support team is important, so we can all work together towards achieving our client’s success.”

Inevitably, parents are always anxious to see results right away. Most parents working with Elite Method will notice subtle but meaningful changes in their child’s social and emotional growth. Kids in the program learn how to identify and control their emotions. They exhibit more patience, resilience, and improved listening skills, the couple says. Their motivation increases, and they are willing to try new things and express their thoughts and feelings. Ultimately it is this kind of growth that leads to a more capable and confident child.

For more information on Elite Method, visit theelitemethod.com.