“Having just one choice is no choice at all. The more choices you have, the more freedom you have to be in the driving seat of your car.” Steve Bannister
“The whole point of NLP is having more choice.” Richard Bandler
“You’re not just a leaf on the wind.” Anthony Robbins
“We are making hundreds, thousands even millions of unconscious choices every day about what we pay attention to and what we don’t. And this is fine, provided those choices work for us. However, if we are not getting the results we want, we can learn to make new choices until we find what does work.” Sue Knight
“Identifying, acknowledging, examining, and employing our parts, rules, and inner wisdom help us transform our internal process and deal with present circumstances. By removing our self-made limits, we expand our choices.” Virginia Satir
There may be situations in which you want choice, when you go out for a meal perhaps or in the boutique but in the rush of the morning you may prefer not to spend ages choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast. This means that you will be sliding up and down the scale depending on the situation. However, being aware of whether you want a choice or not can be helpful. If as you think about the situation presenting itself you decide whether choices will help or hinder the process you will work more efficiently. This is particularly the case when working with others.
In a family situation it is very important to make it clear to your children what are options and which are not. There has been a growing trend to encourage children to make choices even at a very young age, whether to drink out of a red mug or a blue one, whether to wear this or that dress. This is inclined to make children capricious as they assume they can make decisions about everything which isn’t of course the case and can lead to some very lengthy preparations for leaving the house! You need to prepare your children for accepting your decisions and make it clear when they can choose and when it isn’t possible or appropriate. You can signal this by asking ‘would you like to choose?’ when there is a choice.
In the family you would similarly offer false choices to children who want choice so “would you like to do your homework with a cup of tea or a glass of milk?” Note that not doing homework wasn’t an option! Also, with ‘like’ and ‘homework’ close together in the sentence you are giving them a slightly hypnotic connection which might not have been present for them.
First decide on your compelling outcome. What end result do you want from the discussion or negotiation? What will you concede and what is non-negotiable? Simply going through this process has a remarkably calming effect and puts you in the driving seat. If for example the pick-up time is non-negotiable you can give them a choice of how they come home, with whom and by what means of transport. If the time you have to leave for the school run is non-negotiable give them a choice about getting dressed before or after breakfast or whether to wear a jumper or not, whether they need to give their shoes a clean.
There is always a choice, not just in terms of the ‘how’ but also a choice in how you ask. You can speak in rapport, using your child’s preferred language pattern – visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. If they are talking about what they don’t want e.g. “I don’t want to put on my shirt” mention something you don’t want in order to match them “and I don’t want to be late for the bus.” If they say ‘yes but’ or ‘no’ this is a mismatch pattern which you can still match for rapport by using the same pattern ‘yes but homework needs to be done first’ or ‘no, it has to be done first, then TV.
Learning about NLP means that we have choices based on more knowledge about ourselves and how we see our world and a better understanding of the other person’s world. We can then choose how we want to communicate with them.
Find out more about the NLP metaprogrammes and about how to apply NLP principles and techniques in your parenting. Maybe you'd like to talk with me about becoming an NLP Kids Practitioner yourself or learning about how to combine NLP with your existing job in teaching or other child-related work.
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