Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
Last week we talked about the Motivation Equation. Your emails were so funny and inspiring! Yes, we have a lot of work to do while we’re on this Earth and setting our goals next to the motivation equation forces us to look at why we’re not making the progress we want to.
Today I want to talk about getting people to do what you want, specifically your kids and your spouse. But this idea goes for anyone in your life, your co-workers, your friends, your family.
My brother just got a new springer spaniel puppy and before I got married I was a dog trainer. His wife has been asking me questions like how do you get the dog to not jump on people and is it okay to put him in a crate? I love answering questions about puppies and it’s been bringing back memories of the dog training school I went to and all my sweet puppy clients from the past. It has also made realize how important the number one rule of dog training is for both training your puppy and… well… for training your children. You get what you notice.
You can correct and discipline a dog for unwanted behaviors but the real secret to dog training is rewarding the behavior you do want. This can feel kind of strange somethings especially when your dog is lying quietly on the ground and you say, “Good job, thank you for being so quiet.” It’s a strange effort to praise your dog for doing… well nothing.
But he’s not doing nothing, he’s choosing to behave the way you want him to instead of barking or chewing your furniture or being a general crazy pants.
Children are the same way. They just want your love and attention and yet all too often, we give them our best focus when we’re telling them how wrong they are.
Why did you do that?!? That is absolutely not okay! You know better than to color on the table (yes, this recently happened with my five year old… who I really did think knew better.)
We are so quick to dive in when the rules are being broken but dogs and children are both just trying to figure out how to get on in the world. They both want to feel loved and safe. They’re both testing the waters to figure out how to get your attention and… the most treats that they can 😉
The good news is that we can absolutely use this to our advantage. If we stop focusing so much on their bad behaviors and instead start rewarding the behaviors we want, we’re going to see a sharp increase in good behaviors.
And this is really true for anyone. If you have a friend who comes over and gossips a lot, keep your facial expressions flat and as soon as she says something non-gossipy, give her a big smile and get really into the conversation. She will begin to gossip less over time in an effort to make you happy without even realizing it.
When I learned about this in college, I tried it on some of my friends. I told my roommate I was doing this experiment. My company at the time was called Green Paw Studios and so I was all about the color green. Anytime one of my friends came over to my house wearing green, I would give them genuine compliments.
“I really like that shirt you’re wearing.”
“That’s a great shade of green, it looks good on you.”
I did this for both girls and guys and guess what… eventually my friends started wearing more and more green to my house. Now this is a completely subconscious thing. In no way did my male friends get dressed in the morning thinking, “Oh if I wear these green shorts to Sterling’s house, she’ll compliment me.” But there’s a subconscious inkling in your mind that makes you reach for those green clothes!
People want to be loved and accepted most of the time. They don’t want to be nagged or punished. This is absolutely true of your husband. It’s so easy to see all the things our husbands DON’T do and it’s even easier to take the regular, mundane things that he does for granted.
If you want to see a change in his behavior, decide what you DO want him to do and anytime he gets even close, reward him in a big way. For example, I really like it when my husband spends quality time with our girls. Not distracted time when he’s fixing something in the garage and they just happen to be with him, but really solid, one-on-one, no interruptions quality time.
So whenever I see him do this, even for 3 minutes, I give him a big smile, I thank him, sometimes I even give him a big hug and a kiss in that moment or later in the day. But I make sure that I notice his effort and praise it.
My two year old has been spilling her water lately. I imagine it’s all a big game to her. I haven’t seemed to find a real spill proof cup for her. She’s old enough to simply take the top off all her glasses. And I tried punishing her by removing the cup or giving her timeouts but it seems that either the attention I was giving her or the sweet delight in watching the water roll over the table was worth the punishment because she kept doing it.
After telling my sister-in-law about how to get her dog to stop jumping, a lightbulb went on and I thought, “Yeah, that’s how I’m going to get Poppy to stop spilling water.”
For the last three days, every time we’re at the table and I see her drink her water the correct way, I make a big deal about. “Good job Poppy, you’re being so careful with your cup. I’m so proud of you for holding your cup like a big girl!” It’s only been three days but I do feel like the tide is shifting and she’s starting to understand what I want.
Here are some other things I want to notice in my family:
- The five year old prays on her own.
- My husband remembers one of my favorite things (i.e. making salmon for dinner or grabbing a scent of soap I like at the store.)
- My girls have a positive attitude about going to Mass.
- My five year old picks up her room, the art room or the playroom without being asked.
- The two year old stops playing and goes to the bathroom without being reminded.
It’s an easy thing to try. Make a list of a few behaviors you want to see more of in your family. Then make an effort to praise and reward them (in a way that’s meaningful for them) so you start seeing an increase in that behavior! It’s that simple!
I’d love to hear about what you want to notice more of. Leave some ideas in the comments box below!