Kennedy: Life coach shares secrets for family happiness

Kennedy: Life coach shares secrets for family happiness

November 30th, 2017 by Mark Kennedy in Opinion Columns

When she was about 7 years old, Danielle Alvarez Greer remembers watching her parents fight and slipping out to call her grandmother for help — an action that would prompt her mother's wrath.

Growing up in a Mexican-American community in California, Danielle said she had a ringside seat to family trauma.

Greer, now 41 years old and a certified life coach, believes negative experiences like some she had early in life shape our personalities and steer us into unhealthy patterns for dealing with conflict.

Danielle Alvarez Greer, a Chattanooga Life coach, teaches conflict resolution strategies for children and families.

Danielle Alvarez Greer, a Chattanooga Life coach,...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

For most of her life, she said, she was defensive and prone to blaming other people for her problems.

"I blamed others for why I couldn't feel good," she said. "And I was manipulating others so I could feel happy."

These days, the Chattanooga mom and child behavioral expert works as a life coach, concentrating on teaching parents and children strategies for breaking out of negative patterns.

She has a sun-swept office on the third floor of the Business Development Center on Cherokee Boulevard that serves as a hub for her "Happy Family Coach" business.

Greer serves a diverse clientele that includes a range of people: from prep-school parents to urban single moms. She also works with groups and in work settings.

Twice a month, for example, she gathers a circle of inner-city moms at the Chattanooga YCAP Boxing Club on Central Avenue. While their teenage sons take out their aggression in the boxing ring, Greer teaches the moms how to deal with their kids' aggression and how to peacefully resolve conflicts at home.

To bond with the group, Greer and her daughter even bought pink boxing gloves so they could work out with some of the kids, she said.

Her coaching techniques are grounded in a therapy model called transactional analysis, a theory that took root in the mid-20th century postulating each person has three ego states: parent, adult and child.

Greer has come up with a companion theory that most children (and adults, too) have negative emotions that can be clustered into three personality archetypes: the "blaming bully," the "helpless baby," and "bossy helper."

Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Any parent will identify with these personality types.

Greer explained:

» The "bossy helper" is a person who tries to manipulate with kindness. They pretend that their own needs are unimportant, but secretly hope that the people who they help feel obligated to return the favor. Greer said lots of moms fit this type.

» The "helpless baby" believes life is too hard and often flashes passive-aggressive tendencies. "Their defense strategy is to collapse and play helpless," Greer explained. These folks tend to say things such as: "I need you to do it for me." Lots of kids fall into this trap.

» The "blaming bully" believes the world is a dangerous place. Greer said a typical "blaming bully" thinks: "I have to get you before you get me." They derive power through intimidation.

Greer believes this behavioral triangle fences people in, and she suggested that each personality type has a reciprocal: for example, the "helpless baby" can become a "happy kid" who sees problems as learning opportunities, and the "bossy helper" can become a "caring friend" who is responsible "to" other people, not "for" other people.

Greer believes her system for nudging people from negative to positive patterns can be replicated in the school and work settings. She recently met with Hamilton County school leaders to explain her techniques, she said.

"I want to share this with as many people as possible," she said.

To explore Greer's conflict-resolution model in more depth, visit

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfree or 423-757-6645.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315