Archive d’étiquettes pour : roles

Do you remember the chapter about the roles that we were locking the children in, sometimes without realizing? The labels that they could not get rid of?

Briefly, if we consider that a child is lazy for example, and we act towards him taking this into account, well then chances are we won’t be disappointed : he will act lazy. If only to correspond to what we are expecting.
So, the book suggests, to unlock the child form his role, to treat him ad if he was already out of it. 

This summer, I decide to try that out.
Our son Leon (4 and half years old) is considered as a whiny, a fussy child. Let’s just say he is very sensible…
Instead of reacting on that – « I am fed up with you crying for everything ! » – (Well… I won’t lie and say that it never happens to me to say things like that as well…), I decided to focus more on another side of his character : his enthusiasm, and the joy he expresses when he is happy ! So in these moments I began calling him « pretty smile ».
« Hello pretty smile! You seem happy! »
« What a pleasure to see this pretty smile! »
It is amazing how fast we saw the effect of that : reinforcing this happy side, we reinforced his happiness. So, just like his father before him, he began feeling « just happy about being happy » ! He clearly realized that we also saw him like a happy child, and I know it helped him to feel better.

Sometimes, he would just call me, while he was playing, so I would watch him, and tell me « pretty smile… », before breaking into one of these magnificent smiles of him…

This time, we go back what we read in How to talk so kids will listen, in Chapter 6, on roles.

As we said then, the idea is:

To help a child step out of his role, treat him as if he was already out of it….

The label can encourage the trait. So it is better not to catalog a child, otherwise we encourage him to behave as described.

In this incredible TED talk – what adults can learn from kids – Adora Svitak says:
« Adults often underestimate kids abilities.
We love challenges, but when expectations are low, trust me, we will sink to them. »
So let’s provide the child with positive stories on which he can build his image.

In this book, unlike the other, we take the time to expand on the examples.
The chapter describes so many classical « roles », with many situations that could make a difference.

And these examples are what give substance to the theory.
In fact, we realize clearly that if the way the child is seen in the adult’s eyes changes, then the reaction of the child changes also.
Which is why it is important to not to reinforce the negative side of the role.
In the first example, the son leaves to go to school, and then comes back 5 minutes later: « I forgot my lunch bag… » The mother, whose reaction, before participating in the training we follow in this book, would have been « Again! » now chooses to change the answer: « I am under the impression that you rather just rather remembered your lunch bag! » ….

In the 2nd example, we see the efforts of a mother against her tyrannical little Princess. Change is slow, but she says: « It took time to make her a Princess, it will take time to undo it… »

Then the chapter ends with this metaphor:
I had a plant outside my window, and I didn’t understand why she was skewed… Until I had the idea to turn it so the other side would face the Sun, and little by little, she straightened.
Children can be like this plant: we can turn them toward the Sun so they grow straight…
And if it doesn’t work, let’s turn the Sun!
To turn the Sun… wouldn’t that be change the way we look at the child?
We have already faced moments in our lives where the way the same child was seen could be so different… This might have happened for example with teachers. Sometimes we have the impression that they do not talk about the same child… Has it not happened to you?

Here’s a recurring topic! Roles, or labels… Once you have been introduced to the concept, you realize they are everywhere…

Is is necessary to say it ? If you put a child under a label, you are not helping him. Because we have a tendency to do what is expected of us, to play the role out.
If I hear that I’m stupid, I’ll think I’m stupid, if I hear I’m whiny, ditto.
And the result is that instead of evolving, I reinforce this aspect of my character.

So, how can we help a child to step out of his role?
By treating him as if he was already out of it…
Unbelievable but true!

A few tracks for that (in brackets examples that can be applied to the role of the absent-minded, which we would have a copy of at home if we were to put labels!)

1. Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of himself
(You packed your whole suitcase without forgetting anything and without me telling you anything)
2. Put children in situations where they can see themselves differently
(could you check the cake that is in the oven and get it out when it’s cooked, please?)
3.  Model the behavior you’d like to see
(I must not forget this checkbook, I’ll put it in my bag right away, so that I’m sure it doesn’t stay here)
4. Be a storehouse for your child’s special moments
(I remember that day when we were coming back home so slowly and you were the only one to remember we had an appointment !)
5. When the child acts according to the old label, state your feelings and/or expectations
(I’d rather not go shopping for another lunch bag, I expect that you don’t forget it at school anymore.)


I know these steps really need planning, it needs lots of thinking! At home, it helped us to bring pretty smile around more…


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