Hitting the reboot

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Some say the official date is January 17th while others proclaim it to be the end of February, whatever the actual number these dates represent the day when the majority of us allow our New Year’s Resolutions meet an untimely death. This process is as old as New Year’s Resolutions themselves.

We make bold statements, declare changes must be made, then gravitate right back towards our old habits within a matter of weeks. We follow this routine year after year even though the majority of us realize that implementing small changes into our daily routine and celebrating these small victories is considerably more effective than trying to tackle a mountain of past experiences which have set us up for failure. We understand that chipping away at old habits is the key to lasting, lifelong changes yet we are still tempted to proclaim overnight reform and find ourselves disappointed in our own resolve by late January. Sigh… the struggle is real people, the struggle is real.

At ColorWorks, we ask parents to shift their mindset around their children’s annoying behaviors, especially the ones their child is struggling to change and to think of them like an adult making a New Years Resolution. Here’s the deal, your child genuinely wants you to be proud of them. They genuinely want to please you and become their best self, however they don’t understand how to accomplish that enormous goal. They lack the life experiences and maturity to get the job done. So they make promises, struggle to meet them, struggle to change their bad habits, fall short of their goals and just like adults they end up feeling disappointed in their own resolve. Sound familiar?

Of course this all plays out on a much smaller, less mature scale compared to an adult setting a resolution for a major life change, but don’t fool yourself into believing your 3rd grader isn’t disappointed and frustrated with themselves every time they hear the dreaded mom sigh or get the ‘dad’ look. Depending on their age your child simply lacks the ability to effectively express disappointment, therefore it often creeps out masked as other behaviors like crying for no apparent reason, displays of aggression, or becoming withdrawn. They sincerely want to set expectations for themselves and achieve them to make you proud, but like I said before real change is made in small steps and reinforced by celebrating the little victories.

How often do you as a parent celebrate your child’s little victories? If your like most of us your answer is not very often. And here lies the problem, there is no positive reinforcement to encourage the growth of new skills or to change bad behaviors! Our solution to this problem is called CHEER TALK.

Here’s an example, you ask your 13 year old to complete their chores without being reminded repeatedly. They declare their ‘little resolution’ and swear they will do every chore (and then some) without being reminded once. They start out strong but after a few days those old habits creep back in because like the saying goes, old habits die hard. I propose a new addition to that saying to help you shift your mindset when struggling through this with your children; old habits die hard but new resolutions die easily, they must be watered with positive reinforcement to flourish.

As the parent or, as I like to refer to my clients, as the family life coach did you apply positive reinforcement liberally during those blissful three days of changed behavior or did you hold your breath, cross your fingers and hope for the best this time? Most parents chose the second route and it often aligns with your first color.

GOLD parents struggle to use positive reinforcement because the child is doing what they should have done all along, they often ask me why should I give praise for something they are supposed to be doing anyway? ORANGE parents will supply positive reinforcements but it is often sporadic or they simply forget their child trying to change a behavior or develop a new skill because they have moved on from that child’s situation and are focused on something else going on around them.

GREEN parents favor sitting back in quiet observation, like they are watching a social experiment unfold, collecting data and information to use in their lecture the following week when the old habits have returned. BLUE parents are a mixed bag in this scenario. They are the strongest color type when providing positive reinforcement as a child changes their behavior, but they are also prone to makes excuses for their child when old habits return. This leaves them in a disadvantage because they take the longest amount of time to call their child out on slipping back into old habits because they often don’t want their child to experience disappointment.

For more information about what color type parent you might be follow this link to our website www.colorworksgroup.com to read a brief summary of each type.

It’s time for a family reboot. Time to clear the system, hit control-alt-delete, try new approaches, celebrate the small victories, and above all remember that changing old habits and behaviors is just as difficult for a child as it is for an adult. So whether you are struggling to get your three year old to potty train, your 5th grader to complete their homework, your 8th grader to keep their room clean, or you’d love for your senior to chill with the attitude  ColorWorks has a success path for every parenting situation.

New Years Resolutions are behind us and its time to shift from the land of unrealistic, unattainable goals and start making small changes in the way we coach our family to help them achieve the success they so desperately desire. ColorWorks is here to help you make those changes and we promise to provide you with tons of positive reinforcement along the way to ensure those old parenting habits are gone, replaced by new skills designed to foster a stronger connection to your family.

Written By: Rebecca Bockhart

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