HOW NLP CAN HELP YOU STOP FIGHTING WITH YOUR CHILD
There are a number of useful behavioural techniques I recommend for behaviour challenges with children. I have written quite a bit about toddler tantrums and how NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming) can help communication but I want to highlight here how to help you in settling the face to face stand off with your child using NLP techniques.
When you begin a discussion with any person, child or adult there are a number of things that you do unconsciously or automatically. You usually look at the person’s face, you may turn your body square towards them, you may animate using your hands or other body language, you use tone in your voice and expression in your face. If you stop to think you probably don’t THINK about doing these things specifically and yet they happen in your conversations.
WHAT IS MIRRORING AND WHAT CAN IT DO
Children mimic adult actions and so they will naturally mirror what you do as in most parent child relationships, the parent would be considered the ‘dominant’ person with the child naturally following. When you end up in a stand-off with your child, the dynamics may alter or the child may try to prove him or herself by acting more dominant in an action that could be considered ‘attack is a natural form of defence’.
Mirroring is something we consider and use a lot in NLP. Using mirroring to make a person relax and be comfortable in talking with you, mirroring to get the result that you want by reformatting language that appeals to who you talk to, silent body language mirroring to become dominant in a conversation that you need to take control of etc. So mirroring is good but it can in my experience also put you in a situation with a child that makes an already aggravated situation much worse as the behaviour of both parent and child end up in a loop that can’t be broken without one or the other thinking they are backing down.
HERE ARE 3 EASY STEPS TO BREAK THE LOOP OF FIGHTING WITH YOUR CHILD
STEP 1 – CHANGE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT
Imagine how you feel when you are in a face to face dispute with somebody else and you feel intimidated, perhaps angry, frustrated, hyper alert and totally focused on the argument and nothing else. A momentary sideways motion with your eyes can break the cycle for a split second and be enough to make you realise you were building up and building up your emotions unnecessarily. There is no clarity of thought while you are doing this and it’s counter productive to stating your case in any dispute. To enhance this you can actually step sideways a fraction. This physical action tied to the already implemented change in eye focus will tell your body you are no longer in attack mode, you are moving away.
The effect on your child will be instant. First of all, they will realise that your concentration was momentarily changed as your eyes moved from them to something else. You will be less intimidating and they have a chance to breathe as you do. Secondly they will see you physically backed away once again reducing the challenge and giving the body language instruction that your defences are down.
If mirroring is in place, your child will probably follow your lead and copy you giving you both the much needed break in tension that you need to re-focus.
STEP 2 – OBSERVE THIS MOVEMENT AND THE SPACE IT OPENS UP VISUALLY
When you have stepped aside and moved your attention, you will notice that you have created a space in front of you that is no longer filled with your angry child! If you have the ability to visualise and perhaps draw a picture momentarily in your head about what the argument is about you will tell your unconscious that you are not attacking the child in front of you any more, but you are attacking the problem that just appeared in the space in front of you.
This is a little bit of mental trickery for your unconscious mind but it really can help you to separate the behaviour or problem you are dealing with from the person that the problem came with. This is a key way to settle any dispute without judgement and without creating a memory that is associating the child with the behaviour. The more you reinforce the behaviour in connection with your child in a negative way, the more likely you are to see any behaviour from your child in a negative way simply because that is how your memory has stored this reaction. Changing it to a positive or neutral memory is much more effective long term.
STEP 3 – PRACTICE THE NLP STEPS ABOVE IN EVERY SITUATION
Find other everyday situations, at work, with friends, even on a stressful phone call to STEP ASIDE and RE-FOCUS your eyes. You will be surprised how easily this can calm you down and how it stops the pattern and the loop you get yourself into when you are in any kind of conflicting situation. Over time your mind will re-program itself to associate a positive outcome with what started as a negative experience or situation.
These techniques are great for all relationships and interactions but can be a particularly effective way of dealing with children as children are very sensitive to the power of an adult over them and can find even the smallest conflict is a route to a stand off. They may even intentionally be pushing your buttons but if they do not get the desired result they will start to change their behaviour too. They can learn this technique from you and start to consciously ‘mirror’ for their own benefit. In essence by your continued positive role modelling, you are offering them a very useful tool to help them in other aspects of their life and teaching them that conflicts can be resolved without having to escalate into a tense stand-off every time.
Try this NLP technique with your teenagers and you will see a big difference in their responses to you very quickly.
Check out my other posts to do with NLP here.
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