Here’s a recent question one of my coaching clients presented: “My son is 7 and still keeps asking for me to get everything for him. Why doesn’t he learn? I keep telling him to get it himself, over and over and over again. But he never seems to get it. He comes back the next day, and just does it again.”
So, the problem is not that her son is dull, or disabled, or even struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s none of that.
For many of you, you may have noticed this remarkable rise in children who seem to be almost incapable of growing into more independence. For some of you, you are staring at them …perhaps this very moment 🙂
So…if there is no medical or psychological reason for this pattern, what is it?
It’s really about words. Too many words. Spoken too many times. Repeated over and over.
And…the problem is easily corrected by understanding the difference between words and action. Here’s the bottom line: Lots of words…means the words get diluted. They lose value…as it relates to changing behavior.
The tendency is to think that words change behavior. Let’s be real about this…if words worked…I (and all other Psychologist) would be out of business…
(Any by the way, within a week of changing her strategy of continuing to answer her son, he dropped the relentless, helpless-like requests that were driving her crazy!)
If words are constantly flowing out of your mouth…you will find several things unfolding over the years. These will be….
- You have to use more and more words to get things done
- Your words seem to have less impact
- You feel like you can never just ask once…and get it done
- You have to raise your voice, and end up threatening to get the kids to listen
- Your kids use words to AVOID taking the ACTIONS you would like them to take
Thus, all of these are signals that words MUST FOLLOW your actions…not your actions (i.e., what you model…and the consequences you implement) following lots of words.
When you can really grasp the power of this, it puts you on an entirely different level of respect with your children. I know of no single concept which, when mastered, brings you more return for your investment.
It requires that you remain impeccable in your own actions…and that you ensure that you walk your talk. We then must model the very actions we seek from our children. Next, we must learn to focus on the events (consequences) that follow their actions…and understand that such actions will teach much better than our words.
If we walk our talk and live in that space…we see our children actually “get it.” And, they get it with much less drama, significantly fewer words, and they find their way much more quickly. Test it…and see what happens!