How To Bring Out The Best In Your Kids

How To Bring Out The Best In Your Kids

A father I know had been getting emails from his son’s teacher saying that the boy talked way too much in class and would ignore the teacher’s discipline.  

When he confronted his son, the boy said that he felt like the teacher also talked too much in class about things that weren’t relevant to the subject, so he felt that he shouldn’t have to listen to the teacher.  

If that was your child, what would you do?  How would you handle it?

For most of us, we would probably try the same things that the father did – verbally reprimanding the son, and if that didn’t work, punishing him by limiting his phone usage for a time, or something along those lines.

You’ve probably found that sometimes these tactics work for your kids, and other times they backfire.  Well, I want to show you an alternative.

After trying everything he could think of, the father called me and asked if I had any suggestions on changing his son’s behavior.

I knew that the perfect solution would:

  • Get the son to take the action we wanted.
  • Get him to do it on his own accord, promoting self accountability.
  • Wouldn’t create resentment in either the son or the father.

I thought it over and advised him to tell his son something like this:

“Son, I admire your courage to take a stand for what you believe, and if you really think that talking in class is the right decision for you, and that it’s worth the risk of detention and having that on your record, then ok, I’ll respect your choice.  But in my experience, the humility to follow authority is also a very valuable skill, and this situation with your teacher seems to be an opportunity for you to practice it.  Not everyone can do both – question and obey authority.  You’re already doing the first one, but if you can learn to do the second one, then you will give yourself a major advantage in life.  I think it would be good for you to learn it while you’re in school, but I’ll leave that choice to you.”  

The result?  A week after the dad relayed the message, he got an email from the teacher stating that she was very impressed by the son’s turnaround in behavior, and the respect he had been displaying recently.

Obviously, this was the message that brought out the best in his son in this situation, without having to “bribe” him, or take anything away, in order to change his behavior. 

To bring out the best in your kids doesn’t mean to change what you’re telling them to do, but rather, how you might be framing it.  The ability to do this effectively is a skill called influential communication.  

What is influential communication, and how is it different from communication?

While communication is the transmission of a message, it doesn’t really specify how well the message was received.  

Influential communication, however, is the successful transmission of a message, to the degree that the message is not only received, but also adopted by the receiver.

A person that practices influential communication can persuade someone to internalize a message and willfully take action in alignment with the same goal as the communicator.

This means that when you communicate influentially with your kids, the result is usually that they end up wanting to do what you wanted them to do, of their own volition.  Pretty cool, right?

Oftentimes, we think we are communicating influentially, because we communicate the rationale that would work on us, but the truth is, it is far more complex to figure out what will work on the other person.  

The ability to influence is not something that comes naturally for most of us.  It is an acquired skill, but one that is worth learning for every parent.

As an expert in influencing kids, I’ve spent years bringing out the best in children and helping them inch towards their potential, and now I would like to share some of what I know with you.  But, it’s too much to put into a single blog post, so I’ve split it up into a 3 part email series, where I go over:

  • What influential communication enables you to do with your kids.
  • Why you can increase your influence with your kids, regardless of what your relationship is like now.
  • How to develop this skill so you can bring out the best in your kids.

If you would like to read the rest of the series, enter your email below and I’ll send it over.

7 Tips For Getting Your Teenager To Talk To You

7 Tips For Getting Your Teenager To Talk To You

I recently had a coaching session with a heartbroken mother who had just discovered some shocking activity on her teenage daughter’s phone.  

In an attempt to salvage some degree of trust, she decided to ask her daughter questions, giving her the chance to come clean, before revealing what she had discovered.  The result was that, at every junction, her daughter vehemently denied each inquiry until confronted with the evidence that her mom already knew.  The ease of her deception and the contrast between the type of girl her mother had believed her to be was so disorienting, that mom found herself questioning everything she knew about her daughter.

I’m sharing this story with you to serve as a reminder that we don’t always know as much about our kids as we tend to assume.  Kids learn, through our interactions, what we expect of them, and can easily be clever enough to show us the version of themselves that they believe we want to see, in order to keep the peace.

Obviously, this can be problematic.  Not only does their guard get in the way of us being able to truly connect with them, but it also can make it difficult for us to identify what they may need help with or guidance in.  

In this article, I’m going to share with you seven tips for opening up the channels of communication with your kids – which is, ultimately, the ideal way to avoid finding yourself in such situations.

1. Break free from your assumptions.

Whether you are aware of them or not, chances are, you may be harboring some assumptions or expectations about your kids or how they should be with you.  For example, you may be assuming that your kids have absolute trust in you, given that you are their parent and basically front the bill for their existence.  Or, perhaps you have assumptions about their confidence or other personality traits, like laziness.  Similarly, they may be harboring assumptions about you, hence their guard.  

Throughout my years of working with children, both as a mindset coach and as an educator, I’ve learned, time and time again, that my initial perceptions can be far from the truth.  For instance, I’ve worked with rebellious kids that turned out to have low confidence in their capabilities, confident kids that turned out to be harboring low self esteem, smart kids that turned out to be lost and too insecure to ask for help.  

If we want them to let go of their assumptions about what they can or cannot share with us, the best way is to demonstrate that we’re willing to do the same for them. 

2. Dish out compliments.

I’ve often found that, when asked about their kids, most parents have the most wonderful things to say.  They delight in their child’s talents, personality, and accomplishments, but in my conversations with their kids, the impression that the kids have is that their parents are in fact not proud of them.  

It can be easy to take for granted that they must know, but sometimes they need to hear it in the grand, exaggerated sense as well for it to really stick.

3. Listen more, talk less.

A mother and father I was coaching a while ago, told me about their son and what he was like during our first session.  Proudly, they raved about his computer skills and informed me that their son was a bonafide genius when it came to tech, and it was a topic that he was extremely passionate about.

Then, when I met with their son, to help break the ice, I mentioned how his parents had told me he was really into computers and technology, and he responded with, “Not really.  They just think I am, even though I’ve told them I’m not.”  

As it turns out, the parents were likely seeing and hearing what they wanted to, or perhaps were fixated on a former version of their son without realizing that his interests had evolved since then.  

My main point is that, it’s possible that your kids may already be trying to communicate with you, and as someone that has been guilty of this myself as well, sometimes it’s us that aren’t fully tuning in.  So, this suggestion is to try shifting the dynamic of some of your conversations so that they do 80-90% of the talking, while you do 10-20%.  This may mean allowing silence for a while until they start opening up themselves. 

4. Prioritize deepening your relationship with them for a time.

If your relationship has been strained for a while, or is getting there, take some time to prioritize rebuilding a solid foundation with them.  Do your best to let go of any expectations you may be fostering of them for school, or for an apology that they justifiably owe you, and see what happens if you shift your focus for a time.  

I’ve encouraged parents to do this and seen results within days.  If you want to follow a more structured approach for this, sign up to take our free 3-day challenge to deepen your connection with your kids.

5. Be patient.

This one is particularly relevant when it comes to working with kids academically.  Educators and parents alike can sometimes rush to give the answers when kids take too long on questions.  This is another thing I’ve been guilty of, but over time have learned how to drop subtle hints without giving much away.  

In the same way that you shouldn’t assist a hatching baby bird as it requires the struggle to build strength, kids need to struggle through academic challenges to really grasp a concept.  The best way to “assist” them is to guide, encourage, and genuinely question their incorrect conclusions for understanding, rather than correcting.

6. Be interested in their interests.

This one can be difficult to do as adults, naturally, but I’ve found it to be incredibly effective in rapport building.  Allow your kids to bring out the “kid” in you from time to time, and you will surely see drastic changes in your relationship with them, with more joy for both you and them.  

My effectiveness as a teacher significantly improved when I shifted my style so that I became more willing to come down to the level of my students.  I literally started enjoying working with kids that I had previously considered a nuisance.

7. Watch your reactions.

This is a very important point: when your kids do something wrong, watch how you react!  

To give you an example, I read a post on facebook recently, by a mother about something her teen daughter had asked her that morning.  Apparently, the girl inquired if she could spend the night with her boyfriend, which to the mother was an outrageous request.  And this is the type of moment when watching your reactions becomes imperative.  

While it may be tempting to let them know how ridiculous you feel their question was, those types of instinctual reactions may be costing you the ability to have open dialogue with your kids.  A reprimanding reaction may be the impression that comes to mind for them when they’re deciding whether or not you truly are someone they can be vulnerable with, regardless of how often you reassure them that they can come to you with anything.