Friday, May 7, 2010
A New Look at Childrearing: Focus on What you Want!
When I worked as an early childhood educator my company stressed the importance of refraining from using the words "stop" "no" "don't" and "do not." At the time I thought it was a ridiculous objective. In having supervised toddlers and preschoolers who were very successful at selective listening, I had come to believe that it was impossible to apply these type of techniques to this age bracket simply because they did not yet understanding and command of language. How could they possibly know what you were referring to? If a toddler was climbing on the furniture, it was so much easier to say "stop climbing on the furniture" rather than "keep your feet on the floor." I thought that you had to identify the behavior and the object and then redirect that behavior. Now I've come to realize that it was my own habits that made it difficult in communicating with the children, not their selective listening skills.
After studying hypnosis I've come to learn that that the ear hears and the mind sees what its attention is drawn to. If I say "do not think of dancing elephants" what does the listener automatically think of? And what if I were to keep saying "don't think of dancing of dancing elephants." Well you get the point. Now imagine for a moment being two years old and constantly hearing messages like "don't run into the street", "don't make a mess" and "stop beating on the cat." Your attention is drawn to the actions that your already doing, so of course you keep doing these things. All of a sudden the adult voices that are telling you to "not" do these things are getting louder and louder and pretty soon your being punished for the very things that mommy or daddy drew your attention to in the first place. How confusing for a two year old! By emphasizing the action we do not want we are literally programming our children to continue that undesired behavior.
Let's do ourselves and our children a favor by cutting all the drama and focusing on what we want. By emphasizing to our children how to be gentle with themselves, and their friends when learning to share. Telling them to keep their feet on the floor when climbing on the furniture, and to stay in the yard and be safe when going near the street. These small but very significant changes in language and direction will not only save us from an array of dramatic child/parent incidences but also help our children create for themselves a clearer view of the world and how to behave in it.