We’ve been told thousands of times we can’t change other people, but the human spirit won’t take no for an answer. We continue to focus on changing others, because we think they’re the problem.
As much as I want to sell you on the idea that I an a super hero with the power to changes others, I cannot.
Ok, that’s not exactly true. Now I’m underselling myself. I’m a Super Hero with poor self-esteem.
We do have the power to change others, but most of us are going about it all wrong. Why this isn’t taught in schools, I do not know.
Here is the 3 step approach to changing others.
Step 1: Stop telling them to change.
From tots to elders, and everyone in between, nobody likes being told what to do. In the words of my 4 year old “You worry about yourself and I’ll worry about me”.
We never outgrow the desire for autonomy.
Step 2: Show them how to change.
Dan Pink, host of the National Geographic show “Crowd Control” demonstrated what to do instead.
To protect the public from distracted walkers looking down at their phones he modified the sidewalk. He created two lanes. One for the distracted walkers, and another for the focused few.
When he took the authoritative approach and told the distracted to use the appropriate lane, there was low adoption and lots of dirty looks.
Next, he stopped telling them what to do and had actors passively modeling the behavior he wanted from them, The result? The texters were more likely to use the appropriate lane, without giving it a 2nd thought.
Step 3: Apply the research to your life.
Influence your stubborn child’s behavior:
If you’re attempting to influence a stubborn child’s behavior, get the rest of the family to adopt the change you want to see.
Parental alienation works the same way, in case you’re wondering. If the parent can brainwash the oldest child into turning on the other parent, the younger children will often follow his/her lead. More on how to protect yourself from that later.
Do you want the child to find his way to the sink with his dirty dishes? Get the less stubborn siblings to put their dishes in the sink.
Praise the siblings for doing it, and ignore it when the stubborn child doesn’t. After seeing his siblings model the behavior, he’ll be more likely to follow along.
Influence your husband to parent differently:
Sweet Jesus, if you have the strength, resist the temptation to tell him how to parent. It takes all that I have to resist the overwhelming urge to be the maternal gatekeeper to our children.
Instead, model the behavior you want to see.
You could also discuss the research with someone else while DH is in earshot, or pull the old “I was talking with a client today and she discovered…”. This approach also works when want to expose your child to a different perspective.
Try it out, let me know how it goes. I have a few more strategies to share if this one doesn’t serve you well.
What behavior are you attempting to change? Comment or message me and I’ll pick one or two to address in my next post (without revealing your identity).