Getting kids to do what they need to: Yes Patterns and No Patterns

As a continuation of the previous article here is another useful trick on getting kids to do what they need to.

Everyone that has worked with young kids has seen first hand how powerful “yes” and “no” patterns, especially “no” patterns can be.  This is when the child becomes set in a mindset where they refuse… well… everything and every answer is “no”.

It’s like a car that is stuck in reverse, every time you hit the gas you go backwards, regardless of where you want to go or where you try to steer.

If you know a child you can get a feel for the sorts of things that lock them in that “no” mindset sometimes, and this can help work them through it.

The trick is to first get them in a “yes” mindset, before hitting the potential obstacle.  Once that momentum is going it is easier to keep going then to start at the obstacle.  Think of it as getting through a snow drift, if you start at the drift and try to go you’re going to get stuck, but if you get some momentum going first you have a much better chance of crashing through it.

In class what does that look like?  Well, a simple example is how we start every preschool class.  We sit down, ask them how they are doing and what they’ve been doing. First we listen to them, then they will be more open to listening to us.  Next we start with something simple that every preschooler loves to do… we run.  If our warmups started with something hard like frog jumps it would be a lot harder to get them going.  So instead its something easy, something fun, and something they will want to do.

How might this translate to the home?

Find the things that are sources of resistance at home, and look for the elements of it that don’t meet resistance and start with those.  If bedtime is a trouble spot instead of starting with brushing teeth, try starting with picking out a bed time story,  then picking out PJ’s, then once a little momentum is built it is brush teeth so that we can read the story.

Build that “yes” momentum through fun things and choice, then use it to carry through to the pieces of resistance.

And if they do get stuck in a “no” mindset trying to push forward is not likely the solution.  It’s just like that snow drift, once you are stuck, you’re stuck.  Trying to go forward when it isn’t working just digs you in deeper.  You have to back up, reset, and try again.

This sometimes just means taking a break, letting them have a few mins to reset and then going at it different.  It can also mean changing focus to something completely different and unrelated until you get back in a positive mindset and then taking another approach.

Kids are really not so different from adults, although in some ways a little simpler.  If they have decided “no” and put themselves in that mindset forcing a change too it is taking away their sense of choice.  They sometimes get “stuck” a little more though, so if one thing is a “no” everything can become a “no” until they are able to reset a little.

More jedi mind tricks to follow, so keep watching our Facebook page or our blog :)