I thought that I was a great parent until my children started getting older and I faced challenges that I did not know how to deal with. Then I came across Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and started to use it in my day to day life and, in particular, in dealing with my children. The most powerful NLP tools for me were its presuppositions. I would like to share a few of these with you so that they can have the same positive effect on your parenting skills as they did on mine.
NLP Presuppositions are beliefs that guide and have guided the development of NLP. They are not necessarily true, but it has been found that they produce useful results. I have practiced and adopted these presuppositions and you can too. They will provide you with tools enabling you to be an effective parent giving your child a childhood journey to remember.
1. The map is not the territory and people respond according to their map of the world.
We all take in lots of information (made up of external events) through our five senses. We then make our own internal representations which is our map of the world. This is different for everyone. This internal map we create of the world outside is influenced by what we call filters in NLP. These are our perceptions, beliefs and values.
As a parent, we need to realise that our map of the world will be different from that of our child. It is therefore very important that we can see the world through the eyes of our children. See what they are seeing, hear what they are hearing and feel what they are feeling.
This has been very useful for me with my children in understanding and relating to them as they are growing older.
2. The Meaning of Communication is the Response you get.
As a parent, the responsibility of communicating with your child lies with you. There are many times when you might have said something and your child seems to think that you said something different or misunderstood you. Do not blame your child for this. Think of a different way of communicating the same thing.
3. There is no failure only feedback
This means that in whatever you do there will be an outcome. If it is not the desired outcome, then that does not mean that there has been a failure.
As a parent, it is important to remember that when your children make a mistake or do not do a good job then you should not criticise them. Give them feedback. I love using the feedback sandwich. In a feedback Sandwich you first say What was good (acknowledge what they did, the effort they made and what you appreciate about it. You then say What could be better for next time ( NOT what was bad. Have them focus on what you want and not on what you don’t want) and Lastly, you say Overall, what was great (a summary of what worked well and round it off on a positive note)
It is amazing how well a child responds to feedback when it is given positively.
4. People are not their behaviour
This presupposition says that people are not their behaviours, their behaviours are just something they do sometimes. This is something that I found very useful and changed the way I say things to my children. For example, instead of saying “you are a naughty boy”, I now say “I don’t like the way you are behaving right now”.
We find that children sometimes behave badly because they find themselves in a situation that stops them from being the best they can be. The most common situation in which my children have bad behaviour is when they are bored.
5. Every behaviour has a positive intention
It took me time to understand this presupposition but, when I did, I started looking at the behaviour of my children in a different light. In NLP, we say that every behaviour has a positive intention. Knowing that these behaviours have a positive intention behind them does not necessarily make them acceptable. It does however, allow you to understand what is happening. What’s more, it will allow you to start thinking of alternatives, which meet that same positive intention.
So, for example if your child demonstrates bad behaviour due to boredom, the positive intention in that case would be to make themselves busy by doing something. The alternative to satisfy that positive intention would be to give them a constructive task to do.
I have also used this to check on my parenting behaviour. As parents, we always have the best intentions towards our children. However, sometimes we may do or say things that may satisfy our positive intention, but not realising how it is going to affect the children. As an example, we all want to bring up children who are confident and have high self-esteem, yet sometimes the manner we use to discipline our children can cause damage to their self- worth. It is very important that, when you are disciplining your child for unacceptable behaviour, you keep in mind that positive intention and do not in any way damage their self-esteem.
These simple but effective suggestions can make a big difference to you and your child’s life.
By Namita Bhatia