I heard my neighbour recently speaking to her  granddaughter   “ Why have you got nothing on your feet? You can’t go outside with nothing on your feet”  Of course her granddaughter could go out with nothing on her feet, what was meant really was “I don’t want you to”  and  for what would be very good reasons as far as my neighbour  is concerned and I appreciate that.

What’s happening in this kind of communication is the girl is asked the ‘Why’ question first and honestly,  the answer in her mind will probably be “ because I haven’t put anything on my feet!”  the ‘Why’ question will get to the first thing that comes into their head, usually honest and sometimes a  flippant and defensive answer.  Then because this is the response offered, it is often followed by them being told “Don’t be so cheeky” or “Don’t get smart with me” … They’re not being. You have triggered that response from their unconscious mind. It’s not intentional or conscious. No-one likes to be asked why? Think about it, do you like been asked why you’ve done something? Feels like you’re being interrogated, at best questioned about your choice or decision. Back to the situation, the young girl was told she ‘can’t’ do something. Think about this, it isn’t true. We’re causing confusion at the unconscious level, because she knows she CAN do this, it is possible to, she is capable of, now mind is confused! Think how many times we tell children they ‘can’t’, when that’s not what we really mean. It is usually I don’t want you to, I’d rather you didn’t etc. Let them know this, instead of issuing that impulsive, alarmist untruth first.

In this situation, the alarm about going outside in bare feet comes from fear and worry, about what might happen. She might cut her foot, stand on something and it hurt her, so all with good intentions of keeping her safe. She also might not cut her foot or stand on something that would hurt her! Both possibilities are there, and it is the malaise of society that looks at the negative first and what we don’t want, rather than what we do want! This could have been explained and then the girl could have made her own mind up as to whether to proceed or not. If she had decided to proceed, whatever happened would be her learning! The best way to learn is from experience.

My neighbour could have stated that she noticed her granddaughter had no shoes on, simple statement, observation, (No questions) and added it might be better to put shoes on in case …… (if that’s where her focus was!) and leave it up to the girl. Whatever the choice, it was then hers. She wasn’t been told what she couldn’t do. We often cause the defensive replies we get in the nature of our questioning and untrue statements that we make.

On this occasion the girl did put shoes on,  other possibility, she didn’t,  went out and grandma may then be annoyed etc. This often happens when adults are ignored by children, when they make their own choice and do it anyway. Think about what’s happening here. Ask what is the real reason I’m annoyed? What’s caused this emotion, analyse what’s really happened. You’ve been ignored, not listened to, your point of view not taken on board. Whatever the reason, think where else in my life is this happening , has this happened. You will have attached a feeling, though and belief around this from a previous time and are still carrying the emotion now and it’s been triggered again.

When we stop before we speak and get used to communicating in a more positive and productive way, we’re going to have a better connection and relationship with our children, young people, well everyone actually.  🙂