Copyright © 2015 by Alan Johnstone
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Table of Contents
The importance of your communication skills.
Verbal and non verbal communication.
Language skills that help your child comply.
The white park bench. (Exercise)
Your tone of voice.
Using choices to assist in a positive communication style.
Using your child’s imagination to parent.
“Yes” sets and “no” sets
Presuppositions and intensifying.
Your child’s senses.
Words that may harm.
Dealing With Young Children Through Stories.
Greetings and welcome. I am Alan Johnstone. I believe that the skills I am going to provide you will make a huge difference in the quality of the relationship you have with your child.
In the last 12 years I have spent most of my waking time helping people overcome emotional difficulties developed in their childhood. Parenting is a massive undertaking and has many aspects to it. In this work I will do my best to provide you with the advanced communication skills you will need to ensure that you leave a beneficial and lasting legacy in your child’s life.
To master the skills offered in this manual and on the audio file you will probably need to go through the material a number of times. I suggest you master the concepts one at a time. Read and listen to a concept and then implement it until it comes naturally to you, then move onto the next. Sometimes you may find it beneficial to write a few examples down to practise.
If you have any questions please contact me:
email: [email protected]
There is an audio course available with this ebook. Enhanced ebooks with audio files are only able to be read by a few devices so I have made the audio files available for download separately. The audio files are invaluable as they help you, the parent, to hear how the skills are used verbally. Please seriously consider obtaining the audio files for yourself as it will assist you in recognising where emphasis, pause and changes in tonality are used to highlight suggestion to the child’s subconscious mind. Often it is these subtle things which make all the difference in communication. I really want you to be able to use these skills.
If you wish to obtain the audio course,
or download at:
How would you be able to parent if you were neither able to speak to your child, nor able to show him or her what to do? Whether your communication with your child is verbal or non verbal, it is of obvious importance. It would follow then that the quality of communication you have with your child is very important too. I believe that the higher the quality of your communication with your child, the better you will be able to parent him or her.
We communicate naturally and we automatically accept that the way in which we communicate with others is normal and acceptable. Seldom do we consider the quality of our communication. This is especially true when we are communicating with those that are closest to us. When speaking to a husband, a wife or a child (especially a child) we become complacent about our communication. When our hurried lives take over and we are merely surviving our schedule, rather than truly living, the quality of our communication may slip. Often we communicate with our children the way our parents communicated with us. We need to stop and ask ourselves whether that is good enough.
The communication skills I provide in this book and in the audio file are based on psychological principle. So to begin; I want you to have a look at the picture next in the manual as it will clarify a few concepts and terminology.
Your Child’s Inside World.
The picture above offers a model of the mind. It’s not the physical parts of the brain but rather a model of certain mind function and it provides an understanding of how your child’s mind takes in and accepts information. As we delve deeper into the techniques I am going to present to you, this model will help you understand why they work.
*The Conscious Mind. *
The conscious mind is the rational, analytical part of the mind and does the thinking and judging. The younger your child is, the less this part of the mind has formed. Your child’s willpower and short-term memory are part of his conscious mind. The conscious mind passes information received from the five senses to the subconscious. For our purposes here, we consider the most important part of the conscious mind to be the critical faculty.
The Critical Faculty.
The critical faculty can be understood as a perception barrier that is formed due to information flowing in from the five senses. From birth, the critical faculty starts to form like a jigsaw puzzle, behind each first impression on each new individual subject, topic, concept or idea received by it. As the subconscious mind accepts information as fact the critical faculty then protects that information from subsequent information that opposes it. This occurs whether the perception is good or bad, fact or fiction, loving or degrading, beneficial or detrimental for your child.
Depending on the amount of information reaching the mind, most of the limiting done to human perception (potential) occurs by the age of seven. By the age of four, the average child has a very well developed understanding of whom and what they are. If a sense of worth is mostly provided in these early years the critical faculty will be formed to protect the feeling of worthiness. Positive concepts are then accepted by your child’s mind and negative concepts are rejected. Later in life if your child is to fall on tough times he will rise to the occasion. It’s really important to note that the critical faculty is just as happy protecting feelings of worthlessness as it is protecting feelings of worth. Remember it does not judge the information in the subconscious mind. It only protects it.
Your Subconscious Mind.
The subconscious mind is home to your child’s permanent memory. Every piece of data ever received through your child’s five senses is stored in his subconscious mind. It is this, which makes him who he truly is. He will experience his next thought, his next action, and feel his next feeling based on the information it contains. The subconscious mind is the protective mind and protects him against dangers, real or otherwise. From our current understanding, the subconscious mind has no analytical capability and cannot judge information to be true or false, right or wrong, good or bad, or even whether something is reality or fantasy. Information received by the subconscious mind is acted upon while at the same time it monitors and operates every cell in your body. The subconscious mind has a massive processing capacity in comparison to the conscious mind and has been estimated to be 30 000 to 100 000 times more powerful.
The imagination is part of the subconscious mind. It is one of the most important tools a human being has. Guiding your child’s imagination to his benefit will have a direct impact on the quality of life he experiences. A child’s imagination is limitless and untamed. As we grow up we are taught that day dreaming is wrong which often stifles this valuable tool in us.
When guiding your child’s imagination, the secret lies in describing things to him in such a way that he begins to experience it. When done correctly you will see emotion and body movement as he internally responds to what you are describing. In this manner, his subconscious mind recognises the concepts you provide as instructions as to what should happen and will put forth effort to achieve it. When your child is imagining what you describe his brainwaves slow down from beta to alpha state. This relaxes the critical faculty allowing new ideas to enter into his subconscious mind.
We tell our children what to do, what not to do, or how to do things. We use words and sentences to accomplish this task. The words and the sentences we use are meant to convey what we mean. This is verbal communication.
When we speak to our children we use various tones of voice and we convey how we are feeling through our body language. Often we show our children what we want them to do or how we want them to do something. This is non verbal communication.
This ebook and its audio file offer skills in verbal communication. It’s very important to understand that the non verbal communication you convey to your child, when using these skills, must be in alignment and in harmony with what you are saying.
If your non verbal communication is not in alignment with what you are saying, your child will either be confused by the communication or will choose which part of the communication suits him or her.
For instance: Your child asks you for another sweet when he or she knows you have already stated that one is the limit. As you respond to the request your child will be aware of your verbal and non verbal response. If you say “no” and your tone of voice and body language say “maybe” or “I am not sure”, you can be guaranteed your child will respond to the part of the communication that suits him or her. Sensing a “maybe” or “I am not sure”, they will begin to put the pressure on to get what they want.
As an example, perhaps you respond to the request like this: “Susan, didn’t I say you could only have one?” Perhaps you are feeling a little guilty about limiting her to only one sweet, or perhaps you don’t feel like going through the scene that may occur if she begins to bargain or throws a tantrum. This makes your words and your tone of voice unsure. Your body language suggests you are expecting a scene or some bargaining. Rest assured that’s probably what’s about to happen.
I make this point now, before we even begin, so that you can bear it in mind as you begin to apply the verbal skills I offer you. In this ebook and on the audio file I will assist you with a mental rehearsal exercise that will help you align your verbal and non verbal communication.
Also, bear in mind that your child has been subconsciously studying your non verbal communication from before he or she could even speak. In fact, by the time your child is 2 years old, he or she will understand your non verbal communication well enough to manipulate you. If your child realises he or she can manipulate and control your behaviour you will find yourself giving in more often than not. Make no mistake, in this respect children don’t play fair. They will use any trick in the book to get what they want. When a parent gets to a point where it feels like the child is in control, it’s usually due to the long term effects of the child manipulating the parent and the parent giving in.
By keeping your verbal and non verbal communication aligned and in harmony with the boundaries you set, your “no” will become accepted as “no”.
When you parent your children you need them to comply. This is in your own best interest and in the best interest of your child. This means that, as far as possible, you need to avoid language and situations that would lead your child to resist what you are saying. It’s natural for a child to have some resistance, because children are working toward autonomy as they also want to become adults in their own right. There are, however, many times where we create resistance in our children which could have been avoided if we knew how.
Negative words like no, can’t, don’t, mustn’t, shouldn’t and so forth will create resistance in a child. All too often we spend more time telling our children what not to do rather than what we want them to do. This is a negative communication style and the massive drawback to it is that a child’s mind first has to focus and understand what not to do before working out what must be done. The younger the child, the more difficult these negative statement are to process. The young child’s subconscious mind doesn’t naturally negate. It has to learn to do so. A statement like “Don’t touch that!” could be automatically interpreted by a young child’s subconscious mind as the suggestion “touch that!” as it ignores the negative “Don’t” and focuses on the “touch that!” part of the statement.
Think about this: Have you ever seen your toddler reaching out to touch the plug socket in the wall (or something else you have instructed him not to touch.) Watch as his hand goes out to touch it. He may look at you as his hand hesitantly moves toward the object even while you are warning him, “”Don’t touch that!” He is unsure. At this point some parents may assume that the child is testing them but what if the child is instead, confused by what you have said? Your body language is telling him he must not but the command he is subconsciously accepting is he must. He heard “Don’t!” (Which his mind ignores) and “touch that!” If, at this, point you assume he is testing you and respond in anger, you will immediately see the surprise on your child’s face.
As a child’s mind forms it becomes capable of more analytical thought. The younger a child, the less conscious thought occurs and the more subconscious behaviour occurs. This alone makes children very susceptible to suggestion. Parents must be especially cautious about what they do and say, when a child experiences surprise or confusion. Both surprise and confusion are well known methods of inducing an almost immediate hypnotic trance. Therapy and consultation rooms are full of adults, who as children, subconsciously accepted negative beliefs, thoughts or actions, while confused or surprised.
One of the most fulfilling things we can do for ourselves and our children is to develop a positive communication style. Most of us were raised by a negative communication style and it comes naturally to us as parents now. We will either allow it to continue to cycle through our children into their children’s lives or we make the change. It isn’t possible to avoid all negative communication, however, the more positive the communication you provide, the less resistance you will face.
Making the change would mean that, for the foreseeable future, you will have to think about what you are about to say to your child and then rephrase what you were going to say in a way that tells your child what you want him to do rather than what you don’t want him to do.
So as an example, “Don’t slam that door Timmy!” would become “Timmy, close the door gently!”
You can greatly speed up the change you need to make by mentally rehearsing it in the right state of mind (the alpha brainwave state). Next, I will provide you with an exercise that will guide you through the process of achieving the right state of mind so that you can adapt quicker. You will be learning to do two things. Firstly you will be learning to achieve an alpha brainwave state by using your imagination. Secondly you will learn how to use the alpha brainwave state to mentally rehearse.
Continue to do the white park bench exercise each time before you mentally rehearse. Soon you will recognise what the alpha brainwave state feels like and then it is a matter of time before you can access it by simply imagining a white park bench and relaxing.
Please note: You can memorise the steps of this exercise as you practise it until you can do it comfortably on your own or you can be guided by the exercise. It is much easier to be guided by the audio file as you don’t need to consciously think.
Allow yourself to do this exercise a number of times. Each time you do the exercise you will notice how your imagined environment improves as does your skill. In this exercise you get to explore the alpha brainwave state by using your imagination.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and relax each of your muscle groups and making sure you have relaxed them completely. Start with your facial muscles and carefully work your way down to your toes. Take it slow and easy. By doing this correctly, your brain will begin the shift from beta brainwave state to alpha brainwave state. Now imagine an empty area. Experience the safe, quiet and calm emptiness. Imagine a single, white park bench. Hold the idea of it in your mind and seat yourself down on that bench. Sitting on the white park bench, begin to imagine what your feet are resting on. Allow this to be cool green grass. As you relax deeper into this experience allow yourself to see or feel the cool green grass beneath your feet, and, the gentle breeze on your skin.
Allow the grass to extend to the borders of your awareness and also recognise the smooth stone path that runs from your left to your right there in front of you. Let yourself become aware of the old oak tree growing behind you which is providing you shade in the warm and comfortable environment you find yourself. Consider any aspects of the tree that come to mind. Experience the tree branches and the leaves moving very gently in the wind. Allow yourself to experience what that sounds like. Imagine a cool juicy fruit in your hand. Take a bite of it and taste and smell the fruit.
Add more trees into your environment and make it just the way you like it best. Be there for a while and allow your senses to become filled with it. Have the peace and serenity that this provides you.
Now begin to prepare yourself for a positive communication style. You are doing this so that, more and more, you use a positive communication style when speaking to your children. Begin by imagining a situation where you would like to change your negative communication style to a positive communication style. In what environment are you and your child? What’s happening? Imagine the scene as if you are there now. See and hear and feel it. Now think about what you would have said in a negative communication style and as you begin to think it allow yourself to imagine a big red stop sign.
Focus on the stop sign and let that override the old words, then just let the stop sign and the old way fade away. As that fades away see and hear yourself rephrasing your communication positively. See and feel how your body language falls into alignment with you positive words. Hear how your tone of voice assists your meaning and noticing how good it makes you feel and how beneficial it is for your child. Continue this exercise using different scenarios. When you are ready to exit from this experience, count from one to five and open your eyes.
Now before I go on to the more advanced ways of offering choices I would like to speak a little more about tone of voice. We don’t often think about the tone of voice we use when we speak. Mostly the choice of which tone of voice we use happens automatically and therefore it’s a subconscious behaviour. Without knowing it, parents often make the mistake of using the incorrect tone of voice when addressing their children.
A neutral statement has a neutral tone.
A question has a higher tone toward the end?
A command has a lower tone toward the end.
Often, worried about the child’s reaction, a parent will change his or her tone of voice from a command to a question. This will be perceived by the child as the parent being unsure and is all a child needs to resist the wishes of a parent.
_If you are unsure of what I mean by the tones of voice please refer to the audio file _
As I have mentioned, it’s a good idea to put your child in a position where he or she wants to comply with you. A big leap forward is adapting from a negative communication style to a positive communication style. Another tool you can use to get your child to comply is by using choice. When you offer a choice to children they feel they still have a say.
A double bind is a language technique that creates an illusion of choice. There is usually two parts to a double bind. Both parts give you an outcome you want but seem to allow your child a choice. You can even expand the bind to incorporate more than two choices.
If you don’t give your child a choice it may lead to resistance. Let me give you an example. Say it is your intention that your child has a fruit with lunch. “Sally, do you want an orange with your fish fingers for lunch?” Now if Sally says “No!” to this question it will be easier for her to say no to following questions such as, “Well do you want banana?”, and so forth.
Choice will reduce the chance that your child will resist because it lowers the potential for him or her to say “no”. For example, “Sally do you want an orange with your lunch or would you rather have a banana?”
As children grow older and become more analytical (stronger critical faculty) you may need to hide the double bind with a question or statement after the bind. For example, “Sally do you want an orange with your lunch or would you rather have a banana? So you can have lots of energy to play with your friends!”
You can even make the choices more compelling. For example, “Sally do you want a sunny orange with your lunch or would you rather have a smiley banana?”
You can use adverbs to create implicit double binds. An adverb quantifies an action so when you use an adverb the focus shifts from what’s being done to how it’s being done and that’s quite useful. Let me show you how in the following examples.
“Sam, are you going to pick up your toys?”
Here you are asking Sam to pick up his toys. Sam has two choices here, he can pick up his toys or not.
“Sam, are you going to quickly pick up your toys?”
Now the focus shifts from whether or not he going to pick up his toys, as to at what speed he is going to pick them up. Also, notice what’s not being said.
“Sam, are you going to quickly pick up your toys?” (Or are you going to pick them up slowly?)
This is powerful because, by implication, what’s not being said forms a double bind! All you have to do is say the piece that is implied. The question now becomes is he going to pick all his toys up quickly or is he going to do it slowly. Note that he will consciously choose whether he picks them up quickly or slowly.
A powerful form of double bind is created when you link conscious and subconscious actions. The reason these double binds are so powerful is because they elicit subconscious behaviour. For instance:
“Susan, will you automatically eat your vegetables?” (Or will you just choose to eat them?)
There is an extensive list of adverbs at
Please note: Having the audio file for this piece of work is really important so that you can hear how the embedded commands are highlighted with tone of voice and using pauses in your speech.
We have discussed how to move away from a negative parenting style (don’t leave the trash there, don’t leave your clothes there, don’t play with your food) to a positive parenting style (take out the trash, pick up your clothes, eat your food).
Once we have done this however we are left with positive commands. Commanding your child to do everything will lead to your child resisting you soon, and resenting you later.
Rather than having to be overbearing and commanding you can embed the command in a sentence.
Jimmy would you please take out the trash.
Susan please pick up your clothes.
Timmy eat your food please.
The subconscious mind is continually and automatically searching for meanings of what’[_s being said. It also considers the tone of voice being used and the body language being portrayed when doing this. _]
By highlighting the command, even subtly, is enough for it to be recognised by your child’s subconscious mind. The more your child’s subconscious mind recognises the specific body language and/or tone you are using the more it will link that specific tone of voice or gesture to acting on the command.
Now look at the double bind I used as an example in “double binds”.
“Sally do you want a sunny orange with your lunch or would you rather[* have a smiley banana*]?”
The highlighted part of the sentence is where you highlight the command with you tone of voice. You can also pause slightly before saying the highlighted part. Also notice that when the highlighted part is said it is no longer said as a question. It is now said politely as command by using a down tone at the end.
If you intend to use embedded commands then you will need to become proficient at creating sets of them about the same thing. The more an embedded command is repeated the stronger it becomes. You don’t have to use the exact command however. Just create embedded commands around the idea that you want accepted or provide the same outcome. For example:
“Jimmy do you really[* love your sister*]?”
“Yes mommy she is my friend!”
“And you like to play with your sister. Don’t you?”
“Yes, we play lots of things.”
“Do you ever play a game she chooses?”
“No we only play with my cars.”
“Will you let her choose a game to play?”
“She wants to play with dolls mommy!”
“You know when we love someone we sometimes do things they like even if we don’t. So why don’t you [let her choose a *]game you can play? Then she can show you how to *play with her toys too. Sometimes you can have fun learning how others play.”
It’s obvious that this kind of embedded command use comes with a bit of work. The best way to learn how to do this is to begin by writing it down. Think of a few situations where you can use this technique and then write them down. As you do so you will become more comfortable with this technique to the point that you automatically start using it.
When you tell your child what you want him to do you run the risk of him refusing you or building up resentment. You can decrease this resistance by getting him to imagine what you want him to do first. When he imagines it he experiences it as a thought that comes from himself rather than from you. By using various methods that I will present to you, you can learn to use your child’s imagination to assist you in your parenting goal.
The imagination and emotion run hand in hand. When you help your child imagine your goal positively and in such a way that it stimulates his imagination, he will generate good feelings that he will attach to the memory of what he imagined.
When using your child’s imagination to achieve a parenting goal or when helping your child benefit from it in some way, it’s important that you keep what you are saying positive and upbeat. This must become something enjoyable to your child. This will allow you to use these techniques in years to come. In other words, when using your child’s imagination it’s far better to use the carrot rather than the stick approach.
An example of the stick approach assuming you want your child to pick up his toys:
“Jimmy, imagine I wanted you to put your toys away and you didn’t do it. Now imagine that this made me angry with you and so I told you that you couldn’t have play time today and tonight you went to bed feeling like a bad little boy. Wouldn’t that be terrible?”
You should cringe just reading this! Let’s take a deeper look at why this would backfire badly. Firstly you are using emotional blackmail to get him to do something. He will feel this negative feeling immediately and will link it to you, to your asking him to imagine something, to putting his toys away and to the idea of him going to bed. This is not a good thing. Secondly you are suggesting negative outcomes and promoting negative thoughts and beliefs. If this is done one time too many, Jimmy will subconsciously believe he is a bad boy because he feels like a bad boy. This can go two ways: Jimmy can become beaten down, no longer trusting his own judgement as he loses his self worth or, Jimmy can now begin to act as the bad boy he now believes himself to be.
A mother brought her six year old daughter to me for assistance. The girl’[_s behaviour had been getting worse over the past 6 months and it had got to a point where no one could tolerate it anymore. Even the school had made demands that her behaviour be addressed. _]
The little girl was well dressed and frankly looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She was all smiles and a little shy. “Jenny, this is Alan and he is going to help us.”[_ said her mother as she introduced me. “][_Gee Jenny! You’]re as pretty as a princess!”[_ I said to her hoping to break the ice quickly. As I watched, before my eyes, Jenny changed. Her face went red and bunched up in anger. The muscles in her shoulders and arms tensed up as she made fists. Then she stuck her chin out, stamped her foot and said, “][_I am not! I am naughty and I’]m ugly!”[_ The change was remarkable! Indeed, she didn’][_t look that pretty anymore! The mother cringed away from her daughter as if she was about to explode! “]Well you certainly are!”[_ I said to her, “][_You are naughty and ugly now, and I am wondering, what has made you feel naughty and ugly?”][_ “][_I don’]t listen to granny and I don’t like granny’s food and I hate being at her house!”[_ was her reply. _]
To cut a long story short, after a bit of digging I uncovered that the mother had started working and that meant Jenny was being taken care of by her grandmother. Jenny resented her mother for not picking her up from school anymore and for the time lost with her mother in the afternoons, which she had become accustomed to. The granny was doing a fine job of looking after Jenny, except for when Jenny did not want to comply with granny’s wishes. Then Jenny was told that she was being “naughty and ugly”. This was repeated to her numerous times a day, more and more so as her behaviour became worse. It became a self fulfilling prophecy. Her subconscious belief about herself was now that she was naughty and ugly. Once this belief had compounded in her mind it became her subconscious reality. Now the subconscious would do its best to maintain that reality and no amount of saying otherwise would make a difference. This is the evidence of a critical faculty hard at work.
An example of the carrot approach assuming you want your child to pick up his toys:
“Jimmy, imagine I wanted you to put your toys away and you did it. Now imagine that this made me so happy with you that you could play longer today or watch your favourite TV show and tonight you go to bed feeling proud that you are helping mommy so nicely. Wouldn’t that be really great?”
With the carrot approach you are generating positive feelings. Jimmy will associate these feelings with you and with this approach, so that later when his mind recognises this approach again, he will already be motivated to comply. Also, the suggestions you’re offering are beneficial and uplifting. They promote self worth, autonomy and the feedback that he is helping you and can feel good about that.
There are times when you just know, as a parent, you are going to run into trouble with your child and that the response you are going to get will be unpleasant. It may be a trip to the shop or getting them to eat a specific food type that you’re having problems with. Whatever the case, using “yes” sets and “no” sets can make the difference.
A “yes” set is a set of questions to which your child will reply “yes” to. This puts him in a “yes” frame of mind which will make it easier to get him to comply. This way you can get agreement when you really need to. A “yes” set comprises of three or more questions to which your child would normally reply “yes” to.
For instance; your child wants to go to the shop with you. You have a lot to do and know he will make the job much harder. You would prefer that he stays home instead but you know he won’t accept that readily. You could use a “yes” set like this:
“Sam do you like it when we play with your toys together?” …. Yes.
“We really have fun don’t we?” …. Yes.
“Do you want us to play like that this afternoon?” …. Yes.
“Will you stay at home so I can finish quicker and come play with you?” …Yes.
There are times however when you can tell your child is in full blown resist mode and when getting a single “yes” would be like pulling teeth. It is then that you would use a “no” set. A “no” set allows you to help your child get rid of some of the resistance he is feeling before moving onto a “yes” set. A “no” set comprises of three questions to which your child would normally reply “no”. notice that even although he is saying “no” he is actually in agreement with you.
“You didn’t mean to hurt your sister, did you?” … No.
“You weren’t trying to be naughty, were you?” … No.
“You can’t pick it up safely by yourself, can you? … No.
A tag question is a question which is placed after a statement. Tag questions are used to do two things. They allow a question to be placed as a statement and they hide that fact.
Let’s look at the a few examples:
Did you mean to hurt your sister?
Were you trying to be naughty?
Can you pick that up safely by yourself?
When you ask a question like this it is confrontational and the “no” you would get would be in defense. This would not be the kind of “no” you would want to generate when using a “no” set. A “no” set requires a “no” which actually is in agreement with what you said. Using a tag question does this by becoming the question.
“You didn’t mean to hurt your sister. Did you?”
“You weren’t trying to be naughty. Were you?”
“You can’t pick it up safely by yourself. Can you?”
Please note that the meaning behind the question changes too. The first set of questions denotes blame. The second set of questions gives the child a way out. You can often change behaviour by expecting better from the child. Notice the difference in the following examples. The first one is how things usually go and the second is using tag questions, “yes” sets and “no” sets.
“Jimmy, now look what you’ve done! You let that vase fall on your sister and you hurt her! You are very naughty! It’s because you just won’t listen! How many times have I told you to leave stuff alone?”
This would be said to try and get the child to see the error of his ways and hope that the guilt instilled would prevent him from doing something similar in the future. However, as I have explained before, this type of communication would rather enforce the unwanted behaviour.
“Jimmy, you didn’t mean to hurt you sister. Did you?” “No mommy.”
(Yes I agree didn’t.)
“And you weren’t trying to be naughty. Were you?” “No mommy.”
(Yes I agree wasn’t.)
“And you can’t pick the vase up safely by yourself. Can you?” “No mommy.”
(Yes I agree can’t.)
“Will you remember to be more careful when your sister is with you?” “Yes mommy.”
“Will you say sorry to Susan because she got hurt?” “Yes mommy. Sorry Susan!”
“Ok now, let Susan pick a game and then you play her game with her. Is that ok?”
Tag questions provide another benefit. Other than leading to the answer you want, they also allow you to turn a question into a statement or a command. The last tag question asked, (“Ok now let Susan pick a game and then you play her game with her. Is that ok?”) provides a yes as an answer. It also presents an opportunity for you to use an embedded command.
“Ok now, [let Susan pick a game *]and then[ you play her game with her*]. Is that ok?”
When tag questions are used to generate “yes” answers you will find they often provide an opportunity to embed a command that has value. When tag questions are used to generate “no”, the embedded command cannot often be used as it would be in a negative communication style.
“Jimmy, you didn’t mean to hurt you sister, did you?”
When highlighting this part as an embedded command the word didn’t may be negated by a child’s mind and the words [*you mean to hurt you sister *]would be left. Not a subconscious message you would like to give Jimmy, I am sure.
Here is a list of other tag questions that turn questions into statements or commands:
Don’t we?, Shouldn’t it?, Isn’t that right?, Don’t you agree?, Can you not?, Isn’t it?, Aren’t you?, Aren’t they?, Can’t you?, Hasn’t it?, Wasn’t it?, Couldn’t you?, Doesn’t it?, Wouldn’t it?, Won’t it?, Hasn’t it?, Didn’t it?
Please recognise that it is really easy to overuse tag questions. This is because they give you what you want. However, when you use tag questions too often, or incorrectly, you will be perceived as domineering. I tell you this because you will find yourself integrating these verbal skills into all your communication automatically. With teens or adults, only use tag questions when it’s important that you get agreement. Tag questions can break rapport as they force compliance.
A great way to have your children follow your instructions is to presuppose that they will do so. It’s also quite easy to hide that you are doing this and the younger your child is the easier it is to use. In fact, this is an excellent way to get your child to comply while making it pleasant to do so. A double bind works great with a presupposition. Tag questions can also hide the presupposition.
For instance, if you need your child to bath but you usually have a problem getting her to do so it would normally go like this: “Susan please go and bath.” Or like this, “Susan if you don’t go and bath right now you’re going to be in big trouble!” Or like this, “Susan if you go and bath now I will buy you something tomorrow.”
Obviously none of these work in the long run. Once a child has formed a resistance to something a direct command is just begging to be resisted. If on the other hand, the child is forced to comply, her resistance will lead to resentment. Threatening your child will also not work in the long run because at some stage she will test your threat and you will be forced to do something you will feel guilty about later. That guilt will cause you to cave in to further demands later. Bribing a child is also a terrible choice because once that pattern is formed, the stakes can only get higher. Today’s sweet is tomorrows Barbie doll, next weeks dress and a Mercedes at sixteen. Also, she will lose respect for you. Guaranteed.
You could, however, presuppose she is going to bath while highlighting something else in your communication which conceals it. Double binds do this very well. For instance: “Susan would you like to help me make supper after you have bathed or would you rather watch your Little Mermaid DVD?” Here you are presupposing that she will bath. Her focus shifts from that fact to the choice you are offering her with regard to what she will do once that has occurred. By choosing she subconsciously also accepts that she will bath. You don’t need to use a double bind however, you could simply presuppose like this: “Susan, would you like to watch your Little Mermaid DVD after your bath?”
If you intensify what comes with the presupposition and make it more compelling it will hide the presupposition even further. “Susan wouldn’t it be great to watch your Little Mermaid DVD in your warm and comfy pyjamas after you have had a bath?” Here the words “warm and comfy” draws her attention. Obviously this assumes that she usually finds her pyjamas warm and comfy. Putting something into past tense, as if it has already happened is a great way to presuppose.
Another important aspect to consider, is what the preferred primary information intake system is, that your child uses, to subconsciously represent memory and understanding. The words warm and comfy are “feeling” words and would work best for a child that has primarily, a kinaesthetic information intake system. If your child has a visual information intake system as a preferred primary you would describe something visual to him. For instance: “Jack, after you have bathed I will help you put up your black racing track so that you and I can play with the blue car and the yellow car and watch them race around and around! Do you want to play with the blue one or the yellow one?” if your child has an auditory information intake system as a preferred primary you would describe something auditory for him. For instance: “Billy, after you have bathed, would you like me to tell you the story about the monkey who stopped sucking his thumb or would you like me to tell you the story about where the animals played hide and seek until they laughed and laughed?”
If you are new to the idea of information intake systems, not to worry, I will be covering that in the next section.
There are simple openers that make presupposition easy. If your child is a little older you can begin to use such openers. They work excellently with teens and adults alike. (Please notice how many of these openers also set up embedded commands.
*When you… *
“When you” presupposes that your child is going to do or experience what you describe, so it’s no longer open to debate or doubt.
“When you have bathed you can watch your Little Mermaid DVD.”
“When you have taken out the trash you can use the internet.”
*What would it be like if… *
This opener is in effect, a command for your child to imagine the condition or occurrence named or described after it. You can use this positively by the description that follows the opener. When your child imagines something, he will not resist it, because he will experience it as something he is doing.
“What would it be like if you already had your bath and were all warm and comfy in your pyjamas?”
“What would it be like if you had already quickly taken out the trash and were surfing the internet?”
*A person can… *
By talking about a “person” it deflects resistance, since you really aren’t talking about your child. If your child is young you can use “Big boys can…, or big girls can…”
“Big boys can bath by themselves without splashing on the floor.”
“Big girls can get dressed and remember to button all the buttons.”
“A person can remember to put the toilet seat down.”
*If you were to… *
When you know you are going to have a lot of resistance from your child to a certain idea you can use this opener. It prevents your child directly resisting something you say. It also allows you to set up a condition that makes your command more palatable. It’s also a command for your child to imagine the condition or occurrence named or described. You can use this positively or negatively by the description that follows the opener. When your child imagines something he will not resist it because he will experience it as something he is doing. The word “if” does suggest that he may not however. So use this only when you are dead sure he will resist or when it’s not vital that your child complies. Otherwise use another opener.
“If you were to eat fruit for lunch you would be very surprised how much energy you will have for soccer practice.”
“If you were to focus on getting your homework done you would have much more time for yourself.”
*As you… *
This phrase assumes that your child will do what you say.
“As you go out, please take the trash out too.”
“As you bath remember to keep the floor dry.”
*You might find… *
This opener is useful as the start of an intensifying chain of phrases. It implies that your child is going to experience what you describe as something that just happens. This is also hard to resist because again, you are not commanding him to do anything.
“You might find that when you focus on getting your homework done it’s easier and you get it done quicker.”
“You might find that some new foods take a bit of getting used to and then become one of your favourites.”
*To the point where… *
This statement connects one thing your child is experiencing with the next thing you want them to experience, so it connects statements and amplifies them.
“You might find that focusing on your homework, to the point where you can get it done quickly and correctly, will give you a good feeling about yourself.”
“As you bath carefully you can do so to a point where you don’t have to mess on the floor.”
How surprised would you be to…
This opener implies that what you describe is going to happen, and the only question is how surprised your child will be by it.
“How surprised will you be to have your homework done quicker because you focused on getting it done?”
“How surprised will you be to bath carefully and not have to clean the water off the floor?”
Here are a list of additional openers and connectors that you can practice and include into your daily language to improve your influence and rapport with your child and people generally:
Allow yourself to be open to…
Almost as if…
And as you …you can…
And I don’t know if…
And I wonder…
And I would like you to become aware of…
And I’m not sure if…
And it will be very interesting for you to discover for yourself that…
And now as you…
And so to begin…
And you can…
And you don’t even have to…
And you really don’t need to…
And you will begin to notice…
Are you beginning to…
As a result…
As time goes on you will find yourself…
As you allow yourself to…
As you continue…
As you keep yourself focused on…
At the same time…
Each time you think about …you will…
For a few moments from time to time…
From the moment you … you begin to…
Focus your attention on…
Have you ever…
How many times have you asked yourself…
I don’t know…
I know you can…
I would like you to…
I’m going to ask you to…
I’m only going to ask you to…
Imagine for a…
Just allow yourself to drift back to that experience…
Just imagine for instance…
Let your thoughts…
More and more you…
Now concentrate your mind on…
Now imagine yourself…
Please recognize that your mind can automatically…
So just continue to let yourself…
Soon you will…
Starting now you may begin…
Take a few moments to make…
The more you allow your mind to … the more…
While you are…
With every passing minute you begin …
With every passing word you feel…
You automatically find yourself…
You can begin…
You may also notice that…
You may find it…
You will find yourself…
You will soon begin to notice…
If you are unsure how to use these or you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Your child’s five senses feed information about himself and his environment to his mind which allows him his experience of reality. The information flows into his subconscious mind where it is processed as internal representations. These representations offer him a memory of the information, if he needed to access it later and creates behavioural and emotional responses, with regard to this information dependent on what the information means to him. It also determines what similar information will mean to him in the future.
If your child’s preferred primary information intake system is visual then his information is predominantly stored in pictures. This means that when he remembers something in his past he will first become aware of the picture involved in that memory. Once he is aware of the picture he may become aware of sounds and/or feelings. So when he imagines or remembers something he may:
• See a movie or a photo.
• See a panorama or a framed picture.
• See it in colour or black and white.
• Experience brightness or dullness of colour.
• Have a specific size of picture.
• Have an actual mental spatial position where the picture is stored.
When dealing with a child who’s preferred primary information intake system is visual, it’s important that your communication with him is of a visual nature. By describing things to him in such a way that it helps him form pictures in his mind will help him understand and keep him engaged. For example: Have you ever played with a blue, red and yellow beach ball on the beach?
If your child’s preferred primary information intake system is auditory then his information is predominantly stored in sounds. This means that when he remembers something in his past he will first become aware of the sounds involved in that memory. Once he is aware of the sounds he may become aware of pictures and feelings. So when he imagines or remembers something he may remember it as:
• Loud or quiet.
• Soft or rasping.
• High or low pitch.
• He will notice the source of the sound.
• Timbre (characteristic sound, such as a voice like Donald Duck).
• He will notice the movement of the sound source.
• He will notice how long the sound lasts.
• He will notice the tempo of the sound.
When dealing with a child whose preferred primary information intake system is auditory it’s important that your communication with him is of an auditory nature. By describing things to him in such a way that it helps him form words and sounds in his mind, will help him understand and keep him engaged. For example: “Have you ever been on the beach and became aware of the sound of the breaking waves and then listened to the cry of the seagulls and the crispy sound the sand makes when the water pulls back?”
If your child’s preferred primary information intake system is kinaesthetic then his information is predominantly stored in feelings. A feeling can be a movement, sensation or an emotion. This means that when he remembers something in his past he will first become aware of the movement, sensations or feelings involved in that memory. Once he is aware of these, he may become aware of pictures and sounds. When he imagines or remembers something he may experience it as:
• Hot or cold
• Rough or smooth
• He will be aware of the pressure
• He will be aware of the weight
• He will be aware of the location
• He will be aware of the rhythm
• He will experience something as steady or intermittent
• He will be aware of facial expressions and body language.
When dealing with a child who’s preferred primary information intake system is kinaesthetic it’s important that your communication with him is of a feeling related nature. By describing things to him in such a way that it helps him form words and sounds in his mind, will help him understand and keep him engaged. For example: “It’s wonderful how walking on the beach while feeling the warmth of the sun on your body and the coolness of the water on your feet can make you feel so good.”
Realise that you as a parent also have a preferred primary information intake system. If you are lucky your child may have the same information intake system as you do. If not, and you communicate with your child in your preferred intake system you are going to find that it often feels as if you are miscommunicating or that your child just doesn’t want to listen to you. Invariably, your can do yourself a big favour by becoming aware of what other peoples information intake system and teaching yourself to communicate with people in their own preferred information intake system.
You can develop the learning methods that do not come naturally to your child with stories. A seeing (visual) child can learn to become more comfortable listening when you describe a picture to him, and link it to sounds, in such a way that it creates the pictures and sounds in his imagination. A child that naturally learns by listening (auditory) will have the benefit of also learning to create pictures in his imagination in the same scenario. A feeling (kinaesthetic) child will gain the most from stories that describe sounds and pictures too. Using smell and taste in the imagination will deepen the involvement of the child’s imagination. Doing this is called crossing representational systems. You can start by communicating in the child’s preferred information intake system and then cross over to the other information intake systems, once the child is engrossed.
As an example, read this:
“Some of the little animals are playing on a big blue and yellow jumping castle (eliciting the visual system) while others are running around and around it. (Eliciting the kinaesthetic system).
The grass is soft and green. (Again involving kinaesthetic (soft), and visual system (green)). As the little animals run and play they feel (kinaesthetic system) how the cool green grass tickles _](kinaesthetic system) [_their little feet. Have you felt how cool green grass tickles your feet? It’s really nice, isn’t it? (Eliciting child relation to the described kinaesthetic sensory explanation and personalising it. This deepens the child’s mental involvement).
And this example:
On the table, where the mommies are sitting, is a bright yellow tablecloth (eliciting visual representational system)[_ and a big bunch of orange roses_] (visual representational system). There are also small little pink flowers and big fat red ones (visual representational system). There is even big round blue flowers (visual representational system)[_ that look like soccer balls and smell just like ice cream!_] (Crossing of representational system between visual and smell leading to deeper mental involvement).
The mommies are sitting around the table chatting while they drink tea. Their little children are happy and excited! The smallest little animals feel safe because they are close enough to hear their mommy’s voice. The little animals know how their mommy’s voice sounds (eliciting auditory system). Do you know how your mommy’s voice sounds?
(Excerpt from our book “”.)
How many compliments will it take to offset the emotional damage of one harsh criticism? Imagine someone criticising something personal about you which you already are self conscious about. How many compliments would he or she have to give you to make up for it? Sometimes no amount of compliments can undo the damage.
Now think about how many compliments you give your child daily versus how many criticisms. Many people criticise themselves constantly while others do it less frequently. Those who do so frequently have learned to do so. A lifetime of negative thoughts and feelings can be sparked off by one careless or hurtful statement. Bearing this in mind, there are specific words that you need to use with caution because they can easily lead to criticism.
The word “but”.
One of these words is the word “but”. When the word “but” is used in a sentence it indicates subconsciously that you don’t mean what you have said before it. If you are speaking to your child you may be undermining your intention and your child. By replacing the word “but” with “and” or “however” you can often solve this problem. Replacing the word “but” with “even although” may improve it even more.
Follow the examples below and notice the difference in how they make you feel.
I love you but I need some space.
I love you and I need some space.
I love you even although I need some space.
Do you notice how different the meaning of each of the above statements change and how they make you feel? The word “but” in the first sentence cancels out the “I love you” and comes across as “you don’t really love me and you’d rather have some space.” The meaning of the second sentence comes across as both the love I have for you and the space I need are on an equal footing. The third sentence puts the space I need at a lower level than the love I have for you.
The word “but” when used in this manner, will make your child feel that you love him conditionally. I firmly believe that children who experience their parents love as conditional, suffer later in life from a low self esteem. After all if you’re not good enough for the most important people in your life then who are you good enough for? Think about this the next time you want to say “I love you but you must eat your vegetables.”
The Word “If”.
Another word to use with caution is the word “if” When the word “if” is used in a sentence it presupposes that there is an alternative to what you are suggesting. It may also indicate that, that which you speak of may be questionable, untrue or just plainly may not happen. Using the words “as, when or because” prevents this. Follow the examples below and notice the difference in how they make you feel.
If you pass your test you can have more TV time.
As you pass your test you can have more TV time.
When you pass your test you can have more TV time.
Because you pass your test you can have more TV time.
1. If you put your toys away you can play outside.
1. When you put your toys away you can play outside.
Look at the example above. You want to have your child put his toys away right? That’s why you are making his playing outside conditional upon him putting his toys away. The word “if” already places doubt as to whether he will or won’t. Using the word “when” instead, changes it so that now it’s not whether he will do it or not, it’s when he will do it.
The Word “Try”.
When you consciously use the word “try” it signifies that you wish to put forth your best effort. For instance: “I am going to try my best.”
Subconsciously however the word “try” denotes failure. Unless you want the opposite to happen it’s best not to use the word “try” when speaking to a child. The word try can lead to failure. Therefore, you can use “try” when you want to elicit failure.
Now consider you say this to your child: “John, try and put all your toys away this time.” What invariably will happen is that he will not put all his toys away. He will more than likely miss a few. This, you will equate to him being disobedient, but the truth is that by using the word “try” you have actually subconsciously commanded him to fail at putting all his toys away. The best thing to do is to omit the word “try”. Rather just say “John, put all your toys away this time.
You can however use the word “try” to elicit failure in a constructive manner and it’s done this way: “ John, even if you try to forget to put all your toys away you will remember to do it when you see them.
Stories are often told to children, by parents, as a form of bonding and entertainment. The child will sit or lie down and listen to the story while the parent reads or tells it. This is great because the child is using his imagination to make sense of the story. There is a creative flow within the mind of the child and parent. Sometimes if the story is in book form it may have pictures that initially help the child along in the process of the imaging.
Additionally stories can also be told for the following reasons:
The story offers the child’s subconscious mind a solution to a problem they are facing.
There is something the parent wants to teach the child.
There is a behaviour the parent would like to alter.
The parent may be preparing the child for a developmental phase.
The following information is with regard to creating these types of stories.
The basic steps to defining therapeutic stories are:
1. Define the problem.
2. What is causing the problem? Understand why the problem exists. Educate yourself as to the problem and known solutions.
3. Decide upon a story that will define the problem and then define a solution in a way that relates to your child.
4. Unless you have a remarkable memory, put it down in writing.
5. Add visual, auditory and kinaesthetic descriptions in the story to excite your child’s imagination and match his learning method.
1. Defining the Problem.
The first thing to recognise, when defining the problem you wish to solve with the story, is that what you perceive the problem to be, may not be the problem you need to address. Let me explain what I mean by example.
Jimmy has begun to tell lies. At first it was only now and then but recently he is doing it more and more. Now other people are beginning to pick up that he is lying.
Here you would feel that the problem is his lying and the solution is that he stops lying. Simple. However, when you contemplate why he is lying you may find reasons that first need to be addressed before the actual lying can be addressed.
2. What is causing the problem?
Jimmy may have started to lie because he didn’t want to get into trouble. Possibly, in the past, Jimmy was punished harshly in spite of the fact that he told the truth. Whatever the reason, Jimmy probably won’t tell the truth until he has been shown he can do so safely. Before the lying can be addressed there needs to be some work done on developing trust between Jimmy and his parent. Remember: Children seldom develop problems by themselves. Mostly their problem behaviour is as a response to something else. Often that something else is what a parent is doing or not doing.
Now you can turn to any number of resources. Doctors, psychologists, books and the internet can provide you with the information you need about the problem and its solution. Never use only one resource. On the internet, for example, you can read multiple articles and viewpoints to get an understanding of what you are dealing with and what the solutions may be. Once you have done so you will have a much clearer understanding of whether it’s a problem you can deal with. Sometimes there are medical reasons for problems that need to be checked out by a Doctor first. Always eliminate medical reasons first. For instance, bed wetting can be caused by chronic constipation or bladder problems. Have a Doctor eliminate these medical reasons first.
Also, once you have done your research you may find that the solution to the child’s problem lies within the scope of a professional child therapist or some other professional who has the expertise to help you. In my opinion, where safe and where possible, it will always be in the best interest of you and your child if you are able to help him. You will benefit from being in control of the situation while learning a skill and earning your child’s respect and trust. Your child will benefit from the amazing parenting you are providing. This, in turn, is the type of parenting he will provide when he is a parent.
3. Decide upon a story…
Now the fun part can begin! You know what the problem is. You know what causes it and you know what the solutions are to the problem. Now you can begin to flex your own imagination. The main idea is that your child is able to relate to a character and situation in the story and follow the story to the solution he requires.
Please pay attention to what I am about to say next. This is really important!
As a parent you would think that it would make the job easier if your child knew the story is aimed at him. You may feel the need to explain the story to him and point out that he should do as such and such did in the story. Well that’s not why these stories work.
This type for story telling is aimed at your child learning subconsciously. If possible you don’t want your child to even consciously register that this is a story about him. Explaining it to him so, gives him an opportunity to resist if he felt he wanted to. When the story is told aimed at his subconscious understanding and learning, he will automatically start applying the solutions to his problem as portrayed in the story and it will feel like it was his idea and his solution! This offers your child the autonomy he requires to build his own self-worth and self-esteem.
When deciding how you are going to structure the story, you can use interests that your child already has. Does your child have a specific interest? Planes, cars, dolls, horses, animals, trains or even their favorite TV show. You can model your story around anything!
4. Put it down in writing.
The story will comprise of three sections. The first will describe the problem state and what the main character is losing out on because of the problem state. This will include how he feels about the problem emotionally how he feels about what he is losing out on.
The second will be how the character realises or is shown by someone why the problem state exists and what the solution to the problem is.
The third will describe the solution to the problem and how he begins to apply his new understanding and behaviour and how he begins to benefit from it. In this section I also like to have the main character teach someone else, who has the same problem, the solution, that has been learned. This offers the opportunity to repeat that which is to be absorbed and learned. It also allows some flexibility in the way the problem and solution is described.
5. Add visual, auditory and kineasthetic descriptions.
Finally, go back through the story you have created and begin to add detail that will excite your child’s imagination. The true magic of this type of story occurs when the child begins to live himself into the story to a point where, in his subconscious mind, it is as if he is in the story. Vivid detail develops this process. Work at developing all three learning systems (seeing, hearing and feeling/movement).
In this phase of your story you also can review what you have developed so far and see where you can implement even more of the skills provided in this book.
I am sure you recognise that, even although this is a relatively short piece of work, there is a lot being offered.
The best way to go about acquiring these skills is to practise them one at a time. I suggest that you first go through this document a number of times or get the audio file so you can listen to it while you are driving to and from work so that the information can sink in. While listening to the audio or reading this document allow yourself to imagine scenarios where you could use these skills. In doing so you will be pre-empting that use and that will lead to action. Take a skill each week and decide to practise using it. The idea is that you do so until these language skills become part of your natural communication. Don’t be surprised if you start using these skills when you are dealing with adults. They are equally effective with children and adults alike. Thank you very much for your interest. I wish you only the very best for your future and for the future of your children.
I have also created four very detailed works as an example to the skills provided in this book. They deal with common childhood issues while offering parents a valuable insight into how therapeutic stories are developed and told. Throughout the stories there are notes to explain why certain words and phrases are being used. You will recognise the skills offered in Positive Parental Communication (this book) in these stories.
Much more valuable to me, than the income your purchasing of this book provides me, would be your review of this book on Amazon.com. Therefore I ask that if you find this work worthy that you please write a review of this book for me.
Special Offer! Get the first story book, (Corry the monkey is done sucking his thumb), FOR FREE!
Simply review this book (Positive Parental Communication) on Amazon, then email me at [email protected] telling me you did, and I will send you a link where you can download it for free!
[*These ebooks are available on Amazon: *]
. (Helping children overcome thumb sucking.)
. (Helping children overcome bed wetting.)
. (Teaches children a technique to enjoy falling asleep.)
. (Helps children cope when parents are in conflict.)
The four stories are also available in printed, picture book format from Publishing World SA. It includes a Cd (the four stories in audio format) and a colouring book. This book is available in English and in Afrikaans.
Get it here: http://booksdirectsa.com/?product=smart-stories
How would you be able to parent if you were neither able to speak to your child, nor able to show him or her what to do? Whether your communication with your child is verbal or non verbal, it is of obvious importance. It would follow then that the quality of communication you have with your child is very important too. The higher the quality of your communication with your child, the better you will be able to parent him or her When you parent your children you need them to comply. This is in your own best interest and in the best interest of your child. This means that, as far as possible, you need to avoid language and situations that would lead your child to resist what you are saying. This book offers you advanced skills and techniques to get compliance from your child while being respectful of him or her. One of the most fulfilling things we can do for ourselves and our children is to develop a positive communication style. Most of us were raised by a negative communication style and it comes natural to us as parents now. We will either allow it to continue to cycle though our children into their children’s lives or we make the change. Learn how to benefit yourself and your child with the skills offered in this book.