April 5, 2005
April 5, 2005


Children understand that words are important. As children, my sister and I made certain that we did not mention anything negative about something we wished to do. Instead we would only discuss in our mother’s presence how nice it would be if we could go to the dance. What fun it would be, etc. We did not mention the cost of the admission, nor did we ask for the money. Once mother agreed that this was a proper activity she’d ask the looming question. Since she was already primed to grant us what we wanted, finances became incidental.

We can often learn from our children who instinctually understand the power of a positive approach. Parents try so hard to redirect their children, they often overdo “Don’t”. Studies on three year old children have identified that the word “Don’t“ is not processed in the brain as a negative towards action but rather as a positive . The outcome becomes the opposite of our desires. We are actually accentuating what they will follow. Make certain that you’re repetitive remarks are what you want and not what you don’t want. This is especially true with teenagers. Discuss their dreams and goals in life and guide them with questions as to how they might accomplish those aims. Ask them if some of their directions are pointing them in a different direction from the success that they wish. Have confidence and respect their wishes to be happy and they will choose the correct path.

Moreover, in the 27 years I have been counseling, I find that many adults only half listen. Perhaps due to the busy schedules and the stress of life, the repeated complaint or directive is sometimes responded to as if that is indeed what we wanted. “Don’t buy me that sweater in blue.” and what do you find when you open your surprise package. A blue sweater!

Just as we want our loved ones to listen more carefully, we also need to give messages more clearly in order that there can be no miscommunication.

So let’s work on the blue sweater. “I would like a red sweater. I look so good in red. Look at that red sweater in the window. Doesn’t it look just grand?” I guarantee that you will get the color you desired.

Try changing a common complaint among women. “You never spend any time with me.” The outcome is the male spends less time seeking her company. Stop and think. What is that you really want and why do you want it? Now reframe your comment. “I miss you so much. I bought tickets for the movies on Friday night. I prefer to go with you instead of my girlfriend. Do you think you can make it?”

Stop. Think. Reframe your presentation. It will save you much annoyance.

Then, life will grant you what you want.