Don’t think of a yellow square…..
When I say don’t think of a yellow square what just popped into your head? Why? Lets double back to this in a bit…..
A few years ago I was lucky enough to take a course on neurolinguistics. In a nutshell neurolinguistics is a way of connecting with someones imagination and emotions with language in an effort to be more engaging and memorable. As a sales person being able to connect with my clients quickly is paramount. Now I’m not an expert on this topic but Ive seen first hand how a few simple tricks can help reduce the communication breakdowns that can hamper even the best relationships.
What if you could do the same with your kids?
What if you could learn some simple techniques to engage their mind?
See what I just did there?
Back to “Don’t think of a yellow square.”
Our brains only process positive language. We can understand negative language but we interpret it as the opposite of the positive. That’s why when I say “don’t think of a yellow square.” a yellow square promptly popped into your head. So how does this help? What happens when you tell your kid “don’t touch..”? What do you think pops into their heads?
Change Your Language to Change Their Perception.
I think to often we focus on what kids shouldn’t do. “Don’t touch”, “stop yelling”, “don’t hit” etc. I believe if we can engage their minds with positive language we can change their perception. Don’t touch becomes “hands off” or “Keep your hands to yourself”. Don’t hit can become “be gentle”. What if we started telling each other what we want instead of what we don’t want?
The one exception comes with the old “reverse psychology.” When I want my son (who’s 2) to eat something I tell him “don’t eat that.”and it promptly goes in his mouth. Why? Because like the “don’t think of a yellow.” square example, he processed the positive version of what I was saying. You can use negative language to your benefit. If I say to you; you never think of how your shirt feels on your back. What happens? Did you just check in with the skin on your back?
Now its not easy to change a lifetime of language especially if you’re used to speaking in negative contractions (don’t, can’t etc) but I believe if you really focus on this you’ll see a change in your own language and in the action of your kids.
If Nothing Else Ask Questions.
One of the best ways to engage any mind is to ask questions. Ive placed 10 questions throughout this post to do that very thing (did you just go back and count to make sure?…there’s #11). Asking questions forces a mind to think. Again I feel that we are so focused on dictating to kids that we don’t stop to engage their mind, to allow them to think and process. If we couple that with negative language no wonder we feel like we sometimes can’t connect.
This is a complex set of skills that we have touched on briefly. There are a ton of books available on Amazon if you’re interested. Ultimately I believe If you begin to ask questions and change to positive language I can promise you that you will build trust and rapport with your children that can only breed confidence,
Happy Dadding everyone!