Stumped at how to encourage your children to DO Better? Get ready for school faster, tidy up faster, or even put in the extra effort in school work? The trick is to make them feel better.
We live in a cruel world that doesn’t really communicate with people’s hearts, instead, it communicates with their feelings of guilt and shame. When we want someone to do better, we usually begin with telling him he didn’t do well enough, and feeling worse doesn’t really motivate anyone to do better.
When we want our children to clear the table we start with “why aren’t you done clearing the table yet?”, when we want them to tidy their rooms we’ll burst out an “why is it taking you so long”?. This is how we were talked to growing up, and this is how most of us speak. But what if I told you that these statements have a direct relation to the fact that the majority of people living on this planet carry a big and heavy “I’m not good enough” sign in their hearts?
No One Wants To Feel Bad
Feeling bad, or not good enough, is not fun; no one likes it, and most people (children too!) will forever prefer neglecting tasks engaging with makes them feel as if they are “not good enough”. This is the reason for which most kids don’t like clearing the table, tidying up their rooms, brushing their teeth, and doing their homework – because our communication with them around these subjects robs them off of their autonomy, and is marred with our expectations, knowledge of the past, and hopes for the future.
But where is the present? Where is the joy? Where is the gratitude?
Intent and Outcome
Children do things and say things from the bottom of their hearts; they are always honest. If they had started clearing the table, it’s because they wanted to help us. Their intent was pure, even if the rubber duck had shifted their attention a minute later. They begin putting things away because we ask and they want to make us happy and proud, but all the other things are just way more interesting. And so they stop.
Us, adults, we are already trained to only expect the outcome, so the outcome is the only thing we see. And usually it isn’t satisfactory. But life is in the present – in that small gap between the intent and the outcome.
Feeling Better – Doing Better
If we embrace the intent, focus on it, and address it – the outcome will follow. I promise. Because making people feel better always makes them do better. And when people do better – they feel even better, which motivates them to do EVEN better next time.
As parents, our goal should always be to make our children feel GOOD about what they are doing, specially when we want them to do more of just that 🙂
Here are just a few examples of how we can compliment what was accomplished, even if it isn’t complete, and encourage children to finish the task:
- Wow! You started clearing the table! Thank you so much honey!
- You managed to put all the cars where they belong! This is great!
- I can’t believe all the LEGO is gone from the floor! Thank you so much! This is great help! You know how I like having everything in its place!
These sentences completely disregard everything that wasn’t yet done. Because it doesn’t matter. SOMETHING was done, and addressing that is the only thing that will help our children do more of that something.
Homework / Reading
- You read the entire paragraph! This is great! Way to go!!
- You answered two questions! I’m so proud of you!
- I can’t believe it! Did you really do all this already? Wow!
These sentences completely disregard the questions that weren’t answered, the speed at which the paragraph was read, and the rest of the homework that’s still waiting. Because it doesn’t matter. Parts were done, tasks were accomplished, and feeding on these accomplishments will allow for further attempts.
- I see you already have your pants on! Great!
- You picked out a lovely shirt for today!
- Wow you’re totally dressed!
These sentences disregard the shirt that still isn’t on, the hat that’s still hanging, and the shoes. But SOMETHING was done – and that something is our ray of light and the very first thing we should focus on if we want out children to do better.
A Positive Mindset
Embracing this positive mindset allows us to ALWAYS see what is there, present at the moment, instead of everything that is still missing. This positive mindset allows us to talk to our children in a positive language that is pleasant on their ears and hearts, a language they gladly cooperate with, a language that connects them to us. A language that keeps us together, rather than sending us further away one from the other.
Try it for one week. I promise you – the change will be GREAT.
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No More Tantrums: Empowering Children to Peace of Mind
I just launched my new book, No More Tantrums: Empowering Children to Peace of Mind.
This book is a collection of the philosophies and practices of Nonviolent Communication, and how this language of life applies to children of all ages. Click the image to read more about the book and get your copy.