Language is key.
Do you find yourself saying, I just can’t get the kids to listen. Maybe you tell your children or teenagers not to do something, and then they do exactly what you’ve told them not to do! (how infuriating). You’re left frustrated …you blame them … but what if the problem is actually you and the way you communicate? What if NLP could help you as a parent communicate more effectively with your child (no matter how young or old they are)?
Using the language and tone of voice is essential and you need to adapt to the age & maturity of the ‘child’ you are talking to. Renee Lopez, 17 year coaching veteran explains further “I believe it really is important to strategically plan and ‘get down to their level’ no matter what the age. For a young child, it means squatting down to chat face to face at their height and set boundaries. For preteens and teenagers, it’s focusing on having already built a loving relationship, so they understand in times of needing to “love tough vs. tough love”. For college students, it’s important to put into perspective what they want to do long-term and how their behaviours may be detrimental to achieving their future goals.”
Whilst I don’t have kids, I can relate to how frustrating it can be when you don’t want something to happen and then it does. You say to people ‘please don’t do x,y,z’ and then watch them do it in front of your very eyes!
‘the meaning of your communication of the response you get’ …
Harsh, you might think to open with this statement, but within NLP we have a set of presuppositions (convenient assumptions if you like) that it’s helpful for us to adopt. When 2 people are communicating, who is responsible for the communication? 50% each? – what do you think would happen if you took 100% responsibility for your communication, what would happen to your result? Rather than thinking to yourself, they just don’t understand me, they’re not listening to me, they don’t get where I’m coming from …. you could take responsibility, and could begin to become more flexible in your communication. NLP has helped many parents do just that.
The mind doesn’t process negatives …
Young children have very suggestible (that’s why kids advertising on TV is so effective). They live in the land of make believe – using their unconscious mind to imagine and create. It’s a magical place to be.
The Unconscious mind does not process negatives. This means that is you say “don’t run across the road” they can’t process the “don’t” – it’s like a direct instruction to do exactly what you don’t want – to “run across the road”.
Couple the fact they are suggestible and their minds can’t process negatives, messages get straight into the unconscious mind more easily and thus you can see how we get to where we get to….
The solution: say it the way you want it!
Instead of telling them what you don’t want them to do, focus on telling them what you want them to do. For example instead of saying ‘don’t run into the road’ say to your child ‘stay here with me’. A friend of mine who is NLP Master Practitioner shared this gem with her grandson’s football team coach. She went up him at half time and said ‘rather than telling them what you don’t want them to do, tell them what you want them to do’. he had spent the first half saying: don’t pass it to him, don’t go down there etc. The Coach looked perplexed following his feedback – was there a difference in the second half? Absolutely. In the second half the boys went on to win their match – the coach and the boys were delighted!
NLP for Parents – want some more skills & tips to help you better support your child, teenager or young adult …
If we can get our children off on the right track to start with, we’ll save them a lot of problems when they become adults. There are more reports of children who have ‘challenges’ and often if we just approached them in a different way we’d help them grow and develop healthy strategies to cope and go on to live they life they want. Below are some examples of the techniques from our NLP Practitioner course which you’ll find invaluable with your children:
- Bring about change through Metaphors (Stories with a purpose) – so many parents read bed-time stories to their children or tell tales of when they were a kid, or stories about the grandparents etc. Everyone loves stories. How would it be if you could help your child see possibility, help them change unhelpful behaviour, learn new ways of coping simply through the stories to tell? I remember one of my delegates telling me he was the “coolest dad in the school” because he made up his stories and didn’t just read them from books (little did they know they stories were all about them and their behaviour changed for the better). Another delegates struggled with her teenager going to sleep on time (he was always up late playing on his xbox) – he overhead a story about Pokemon between his mum and dad (had no idea it was actually about him) and that night be was tucked up on bed sleeping on time (and they all benefited the next day!)
- Building Self-Confidence and other helpful emotions feelings – we use a technique called NLP anchoring which enables us to take a positive emotion like confidence (or other emotions like calm, excitement, anticipation, etc). This would enable your child to access a positive emotional state at any time, immediately. Great for when they may feel nervous, be unsure of themselves or lack confidence etc – anytime it would be helpful to feel more positive, this can be achieved with Anchoring. It’s also possible to Anchor calm states that help them to relax at bedtime or when calmness is useful.
- Anchoring – to expand on this point, Dr Karen Phillip – one of Australia’s Leading Relationship and Parenting Authorities advises “gently squeezing the shoulder of your child after you have their attention and as you give an instruction. This anchors in the message so each time you wish to give direction a gentle squeeze helps make the direction heard and followed.”
- Exam Stress and Nerves – because testing starts at such a young age in the education system many children develop anxiety around exams very early on and this often only gets worse as they become teenagers and adults. They find that is a given context (exams/tests) they always feel negative emotions (nerves, anxiety etc). One of our delegates son’s used to suffer really badly with this. He used a technique called the Swish Pattern to help him access a much more positive emotion when he was in that situation – it worked a treat for his exams!
- Handling conflict – sometimes parents get into arguments with their children, or children get into arguments with other children. We use a great technique called Perceptual Positions that helps everyone gain insights and see things from different perspectives. You could use the technique with your child or you/they could use it as a self-coaching tool. It’s surprising how increased self awareness helps us too. It’s also a great problems solving tool as well. Maria Fuller; Founder of Raising A Powerful Girl (A company empowering parents to Foster Independence, Leadership and a Strong Sense of Personal Identity in their daughters so they can Change the World) suggests giving positive explanations – “In situations where there aren’t really alternative options, always compensate by giving an explanation. If you can make your child understand why they aren’t getting their own way, they are less likely to react badly. “
- Helpful approaches & mindsets – often we don’t stop to check in with our assumptions or approach to things. For example learning the NLP Presuppositions (convenient assumptions that form part of the NLP mindset) help us learn that …
- there is no such thing as failure, only feedback
- that what we focus on we get (so focus on what you want, not what you don’t want)
- different people see things differently, and that’s ok
- Grab & Keep their attention – Dr Kelly Allen suggests “Make sure you have your child’s attention before you start talking, use short and simple instructions or sentences, last, check in to clarify whether or not your child has heard your message”.
- Changing beliefs and removing internal conflicts – often beliefs get in the way for children and adults alike. There are many ways to help people changes these into more empowering beliefs that spur us on and help us in whatever we are trying to do. If you had a belief that you were a rubbish parent, I’m sure that would impact on your behaviour (and it would most likely be exhausting to be constantly debating things in your head).
- The Power of Labels (& language) – given 98% of language is unconscious we are often not consciously aware of what we are saying. Many of the messages and communication are wordless -, particularly with teens! NLP Practitioner are often quite taken back when I explain the tiny subject of labels – labelling a child is often counter-productive (and at worst harmful as it attacks their self-esteem). One delegate talked of how his child’s behaviour deteriorated after he was labelled as having ADHA – when Dad understood the power of labels he could see how the child’s unconscious mind was ‘acting’ out the label and the label had become an excuse.
- Presentations and Speaking in Public – Public speaking is the number 1 fear and your children are not immune to this. Many of them were first asked to speak in front of their class or an audience without any training in how to do this. Needless to say they may have had a bad experience and beaten themselves up mentally for weeks afterwards. One delegate on the NLP Practitioner course was able to take the skills we had thought about how to present confidently, how to format talks and a ton more and shared them with his daughter. She had to do a presentation for her University degree the week after – with his support and advice/tips she aced it!
Read more from Dr Karen