Here are some very basic first NLP tools to work through with your child to introduce him to the idea of NLP and how what you are thinking can affect behaviour.
1) State change
You know how your mood can really affect your day. How you think about the day not only affects what you do but what happens and it affects other people’s day as well. So how can you change state? How when your child is in a state that is unhelpful, can you help him change it?
Think of a good state. Think of a happy time for you, maybe a holiday or an outing with your partner, a funny programme on TV or a night out with a girlfriend. Relive the moment you’ve chosen and remember how you felt, what you saw, what you heard and what a good feeling it was. When the memory is at its height and you’re smiling or chuckling away as you recall it, squeeze your earlobe or tap the steering wheel, do something to anchor it for you. When you feel yourself getting stressed again, maybe someone’s just pulled out in front of you, anchor the good state and relax.
You can teach this to your child. Ask them to think about a fun time, something they really enjoyed, a party or maybe a movie. Show them how to anchor it and make sure they do it a few times to reinforce it. Children do get themselves into a state and having the ability to change state is a very useful tool.
Rapport is how we get on with people, make connections and form friendships. Some people are great examples of this. Ask your child who they think are the popular children in their class. What makes them popular? Watch them and learn how they do it. Here is a basic exercise in establishing rapport.
Step 1. Matching and mirroring.
Ask your child to copy exactly what you do and then switch over and you do what they do. It’s a fun exercise and needs you to watch each other carefully. You achieve excellent rapport doing this and can after several ‘goes’ move on to mirroring. In this exercise you do the mirror action so if your child lifts his right hand you lift your left and so on.
Once you’ve done this exercise a few times, copy what he says and then he, you. Make sure you copy the pace, volume, pitch, rhythm and words as well. Notice the language pattern. Does he use visual words (V), sound words (auditory) (A) or is he more action orientated (kinaesthetic) (K)?
A child with a visual preference would use words like ’look’ ‘see’ and would maintain good eye contact and be very observant. An auditory child would listen well, respond more to what is said to him and want you to copy sounds and word patterns, songs and music. A kinaesthetic child would be quite physical, make a lot of actions and moves for you to copy.
Listen for the thinking patterns as well, such as
a) towards/ away from – are they talking about what they want or what they don’t want
b) big chunk / small chunk – big picture or detail
c) choices / process- options or just get on with it
Step 2. Leading
Having taken turns at matching and then mirroring move on to take the lead by making your turn longer and switch the focus on to something you want them to do, maybe eating their meal, doing their homework, tidying their toys away.
When your child is really happy and pleased with life or proud of an achievement ask them to squeeze their ear lobe and capture the moment. Tell them that if they do that every time when they are feeling really pleased with themselves and on top of the world then when they are feeling sad , if they do that action it will remind them of how happy they were at that moment and they will feel good about themselves again.
4) Self esteem
Children very easily spot someone who can do something they can’t do whether that be a handstand or scoring goals, looking pretty or getting top marks. They don’t so easily notice what they do well and although modern parents are quick to praise their child, unless your child believes in their own abilities, the praise is quite empty and meaningless.
Be specific when you notice what they do well so that they recognise it as a skill that they can apply in other situations.
Metaphors work really well to get children talking about themselves. Ask your son or daughter how they are like a pizza or how they are like their favourite singer, football player or TV character. These comparisons focus on the positive and help them identify their strengths.
For older children, ask them who inspires them and then how are they like that person. ‘If you can spot it, you’ve got’ it is an NLP saying. It means that we can easily recognise qualities in others if we have them ourselves. Makes sense doesn’t it? Point this out to your child and help them by pointing out where you have observed this quality in them.
Where there is a gap between how they want to be and how they think they are, talk about how this person they admire does what he or she does. Watch videos of them and observe what they do and how they seem to do it. Find out about them, do they hold a certain belief about themselves that enables them to perform in a certain way?
If their hero is closer to home, a relative or friend maybe, then it is even easier to copy the behaviour and find out what has inspired it, the thought processes and beliefs.
This is in a sense an extension of the matching exercise but at a distance probably, unless the model can be encouraged to help in a direct way.
Children are very receptive to these games and enjoy them. It requires you to interact with them in a very direct way which shows love and support. Observe when they use a new pattern of communication and try some out yourself as well.
This was taken from my book 'Be a happier parent with NLP' which you can order from my website or from Amazon.