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#1 REMAIN IN CHARGE
As captains of the ship, our role is to remain in charge no matter what the wind of change brings. Steiffleman explains in her book, Parenting without Power Struggles, that the tendency for control is an attempt to compensate for feeling powerless or afraid. Being in charge means that we remain calm even when the seas are unsettled i.e. or our kids are pushing our buttons, defying our requests, or melting down. [Steiffleman 2012:8] The work of Byron Katie is a great approach based on the understanding that it is never the events around us that trigger our upset, but our thoughts about those events. The work is about challenging these limiting beliefs and reactions in order to rid ourselves of their negative influence on how we respond to the challenges of parenting.
#2 OBSERVE & PACE
Once we've managed to calmly detach yourself from the "how it should be" movie, we become free to stay present, allowing them to manifest their thoughts and feelings. We want to be able to remain compassionate and empathic - so that they feel completely understood and supported. That doesn't mean that we are agreeing with their wants, but it does mean that we genuinely accept and respect their feelings. By dropping the resistance we reinforce the futility of their rebellious behaviour. [Beever 2009:63]
There are many very effective ways to create rapport in NLP but we are only going to focus only on a few. Firstly we probably have to get down physically to their level, sit at an angle, or near them rather than facing them directly. Subtly matching their body position, their breathing rate and tone of voice will begin to dispel their inner resistance which normally arises when the child begins the conversation with: "I want to play on my XBox! I don't want to do any homework! I hate school! etc "
#3 IF ~ DON'T ~ BUT ~ TRY
"If" is the choice giver. "If you do your homework, you can play on your Xbox" leaves room for a potential, "no, thanks. I'd rather watch a movie." Swap "if" with "when" and magic happens. "When you do your homework, you can play on your XBox" drops the element of choice completely.
"Don't!" is the doer. Tell your children what you would like them to do rather than what you would like them to stop doing - our subconscious understands that something needs to exist first before it can rid of it. [Bandler, 2008:54] If I asked you, "don't think of a pink elephant on a blue blanket" you would notice that you just thought of a pink elephant on a blue blanket.
"But" is the eraser. The word "but" breaks rapport - swap it with "and" to increase your impact. "You ran really well in the race today but I think you could beat your best time soon", turns into "You ran really well in the race today and I think you could beat your best time soon", which is much more empowering. [Bandler 2010:32]
"Try" is very trying. When we only "try" to do something, we imply failure. If someone says "I'm trying to open this door!" what they convey is that they can't open it. It's the same with the kids - " try and do your homework" automatically disempowers them. Ask them to "just do it" is much more effective. [Bandler 2010:33]
#4 "YES"X3 = A FREE PASS TO LEAD
Reinforce rapport by eliciting three yeses. I would start with reproducing what they've just said, so they feel listened to them without being sarcastic. For example yes #1: "I get it: you would love to play games instead of doing your homework, am I right?" Once I got my 3yeses the barriers of resistance have usually lowered enough for my message to cross over. So I'll go ahead and begin to prepare my field, "OK, hon. I hear what you're saying. And I also know that there is something that will make you feel really good." I can now plant my affirmation, "how about getting onto the next level of the game when you've finished your homework. You will feel like a double winner!"
You can always add a with a no-brainer to close the deal: "And to top it up, I'll have your favourite pudding on the table tonight. Just go and do your homework right now. The sooner that's done, the more time you will have for everything else."
#5 BREAK THROUGH FRUSTRATION
Getting stuck often leads to frustration. That is completely natural, so trying to banish frustration is futile and disempowering. Telling your child, "Well, kicking your feet won't help. Throwing the book on the floor is not going to solve this problem" are very efficient ways to intensify resistance. Frustration needs to manifest, so let it arise with non-resistance. Lead your child from frustration into impatience and curiosity.
Dr Bander R (2010) Make your life great. London: Harper Element
Dr Bandler R & Benson K (2016) Teaching Excellence: the definite guide to NLP for teaching and learning. USA: Bandler Benson Publications
Beever, Sue (2009) Happy Kids, Happy You: using NLP to bring out the best in ourselves and the children we care for
Steiffleman S (2012) Parenting without Power Struggles: Raising Happy, Resilient Kids while Staying Cool, Calm and Connected