As the St. Mary Parish School Guidance Coach, Carolyn Jarecki normally offers help for anxiety, peer pressure and behavioral issues to the children in her Hales Corners school.

However, when the pandemic shuttered schools for months, she began teaching guidance classes through Zoom. She noticed families were having difficulty getting emotional and mental health assistance for their children.

“Also, it has always concerned me that many in our society are ashamed of mental health challenges,” she said. “My unique background of a master’s in community counseling and my training as a board-certified life coach gave me a unique opportunity when our school was forced to shut down.”

Utilizing her successful methods in reaching school children, Jarecki wrote a book based on a three-week plan she developed. Jarecki’s “Your Best Kid in 21 Days” consists of uplifting coaching exercises to help children immediately. By covering a little bit each day for three weeks, the parent and child work together to develop resilience and meaningful goals. The plan is designed to help parents and children create a closer bond that will positively affect them in many areas of life.

For Jarecki, the book was an extension of her upbringing, as both her parents were educators who enjoyed serving others.

“My mom was a nurse as well. They helped found the Catholic church in our town in Ohio, and my father founded and ran the catechism program there,” Jarecki said. “It was always a priority for us as a family to help others, and my two brothers and I found a life purpose associated with that.”

She reconnected with a high school friend who not only published several books but also ran an author services company.

“When I shared my idea to teach parents a three-week system to coach their child a bit at a time, he wanted to help me publish it, free of charge,” she said. “A parent at our school, who is a professional editor, offered their help with that crucial aspect, also free of charge.”

While the book is geared toward parents or teachers who want to help a child grow in three weeks, the principles also benefit adults. The plan consists of seven essential elements of coaching, which include gratitude, an overview of the previous day or week, goal setting and more.

“The reader learns to coach a bit each day, so it is not overwhelming. It addresses a hard subject (behavior change) in a light, systematic, nonjudgmental manner,” Jarecki said. “The child takes ownership of their behavior because the goals they set and pursue are meaningful to them. And the individuals working the system together deepen their connection.”

Jarecki’s plan has come at the right time, as the number of students she is seeing for coaching at school has doubled each year since the pandemic. Last year, she saw 50 students for coaching. She also sees individuals ages 7 and up through her own coaching business,

“The concepts of coaching have such a healing impact on the client. Our focus is on many concepts I have learned due to my Catholic faith,” she said. “We use tools such as empathy, respect, deep listening, reflecting back emotion and meaning, powerful questions, acknowledging and celebrating our differences, and focusing on the other person, all in a safe, nonjudgmental space. My favorite tool is gratitude, and that is where we start Day 1.”

For the school setting, Jareck’s coaching practices integrate well within the school day, as they are present with the children, it is a short-term number of sessions, and the student learns to use their innate strengths to implement change, such as such as how to make more friends or do better in math.

“Parents and professional colleagues contact me often to tell me how the book is helping their family and their individual lives,” she said. “I truly believe that God had a plan for me and he put this purpose in my life. I fashioned the book as a type of workbook where writing in it is encouraged.”

Because Jarecki designed it to be concise and interactive, and not a long book that one might be apt to give up on, it is not overwhelming. Just three weeks of effort can bring about a lifetime of change.

“People like how at the beginning of every chapter (each morning/day), there is a reminder of the goal the child is working on and how the adult can help the child keep it in the front of their mind,” Jarecki said. “It’s nothing complicated; just reminders that the child has chosen themselves. It’s the repetition in the calm moments that help the child be able to tap into their resilience ‘toolkit’ during the more difficult, stressful times.”

Through practice, the child will learn to draw from the books principles innately and will help to bring about positive changes.

“Eventually, the child doesn’t even have to think about what to do; they just automatically draw on a tool to use in any given situation,” said Jarecki. “One thing I’ve learned from my life is that struggle can make us stronger, closer to God, and bonded with our family when we feel supported. We become more capable as we face challenges and rise above them. We grow to be better people, if given the right tools. I hope that people use the tools in the book to improve their life, that of their loved ones, and, ultimately, the world becomes a kinder place.”

You can find “Your Best Kid in 21 Days” by Carolyn Jarecki, M.A., BCC at

Carolyn Jarecki