Parenting isn’t always as intuitive as some people make it appear. Sometimes, when children don’t behave in a socially proper way or when they misbehave, we wonder if what we are doing is the right thing. We wonder what we can do about it?
The reality is that we cannot change others no matter what we do. Sure, we could force them to behave a certain way temporarily, but in the same way a victim is forced to give their money to a robber, don’t mistake that behaviour will naturally happen in the future. Furthermore, forcing others tends to build contempt which isn’t necessarily useful or even possible in any long term relationships.
Bringing a Horse to the River
Similar to that old saying, as parents, there is only so much influence we can actually have with children. Ultimately, it is not a decision we can make, but theirs. However, that doesn’t mean parents are helpless either. It’s important that you think what expectations you have and how can you effectively influence your children to buy into your ideas (and expectations)? Ask yourself:
In truth, this is a question for you to think about as you listen and observe more.
What Are You Paying Attention To?
Children, like adults, express themselves through their physiology and language and behaviour, so paying good attention to the way they communicate and respond to you and others is a great way to learn what will likely have a better chance to work. Any great communicator will tell you is that in order for you to communicate better, you need to first listen better.
Often adults don’t listen to the language patterns of others (or their own!) yet there is sometimes so much you can unpack! In NLP, language patterns allow you to pick up the subtle hints of how they think and feel. Such things often contextual and of course and nothing is cast in stone when it comes to human behaviour, yet when you put those patterns into context, it gives you valuable insights and changes the way you approach conversations.
Parents understandably, want their children to follow the path they think will lead them to success yet this positive intention is seldom met with joyous enthusiasm. Why is it that children don’t seem to understand? Well, no. Not really.
The reality is despite our similarities, we don’t develop at the same time in the exact same way as a text book on human biology says. Human beings today live an average life span of approximately 70 years. Twelve of those years are spent as a ‘child’, another 6 years transitioning ‘physically’ into adulthood. That’s a basic physical blue print, except that’s not exactly how human beings will develop in terms of cognitive skills, critical thinking, coordination skills, emotional intelligence, etc. Clearly, there’s no blue print for that!
It’s like gardening where you can’t force the plant to grow into what you want but you can influence the conditions around it. Trouble is, you don’t know which plant you have. Parental flexibility puts you into the mindset that you need to pay good attention so that you catch the valuable clues and feedback of what works and what doesn’t.
Not what I expected
I’m often reminded of a wonderful scene in Batman Begins (2005). Bruce Wayne recalls when his father (and later his butler, Alfred) asking him after he becomes depressed by the pain and challenges he faces, “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
It is linguistically such a beautiful line because even though he notices the mix of negative states Bruce finds himself is in, it flexibly utilises current events and redirects the emotional state into something more useful, like a lesson in dealing with rejection and how to manage sadness – An empowering idea and belief that sustains his confidence and self development! More importantly, it perfectly demonstrates how children don’t always communicate with words, making my earlier point about listening and paying good attention so much more important.
Think also about your communication with your children, students as well as those who look to you for guidance. How much better could you respond if you knew what was going on inside?
For other useful tips and other life changing ideas, please read our other blogs and learn the #AuthenticNLP™ with NaviGo® NLP Center.