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Having discovered them for myself and realize how easy it can be, I want to pass them on. I am happy to share, in fact, I’m passionate about it. We don’t get any specific training to be parents and in fact most of us don’t get any really valuable training in how to have fulfilling and satisfying relationships (with anybody, including ourselves!) We often grow up having only the model of how we were brought up to follow, if we feel it was good we follow that and if not we try to change it, only very often not really knowing how to. As babies we shower love and affection on them, there’s a time they can do no wrong, everything they do is cute, adorable, makes us laugh, we give lots of hugs, kisses and cuddles and then it changes Not instantly, of course, it happens over a period of time. They have to learn to earn our praise and they get told off for things they are doing wrong. We criticize and spend a lot of time telling them “No”. It’s estimated than on average a child hears the word “No” thousands of times more than the word “Yes”. Think about it, when an adult is saying “No” to a toddler how often do they say “No, no, no, no, no”!!! You don’t often hear “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” Do you? We want them to learn right from wrong and a lot of what we teach them is to help keep them safe and know how to live in society and what’s expected of them. We have their best interests at heart and want to raise, happy, healthy and well rounded children, yet in our attempts we often do a lot of damage, especially unseen ‘damage’, though that is quite a strong word for it, what I mean is the negative effect, what we have said, has on their life. They often won’t consciously be aware this has happened as it runs at an unconscious level. I explore this aspect of unconscious programming that affects all of us in my book ‘How to Handle not Strangle your Teenager’ and on my parenting workshops. Over time we can see and feel that bond becoming weaker, we grow apart and often with our teenage children it feels like an almost constant battle. We hardly recognize that bundle of joy we knew and can feel like we’re living with some alien, a creature from another planet!

That’s exactly how I felt, until I learnt what I’m going to share with you here.

My discoveries came after I completed my NLP practitioner course. Before going on my course I already had a fridge magnet that said “We must be the change we wish to see in the word” Gandhi. I sort of got it, not completely though. When I came back from my course I did! I am passionate about passing on the knowledge I gained to other parents, especially of teenagers (because I had three of them!). And it worked with them! The earlier you start the earlier you’ll reap the benefits. You can’t change anything outside yourself without changing yourself first. You won’t see anything differently until you look through different eyes. If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got! Let me take a little time here to tell you how it was for me... I have three sons and am a single mum, have been since 2001 and have had very challenging times with my boys. Two labeled disabled, one having had a brain haemorrhage at the age of ten, because of a coarctation of the aorta. The second of my ‘labeled’ boys, was on the Autistic spectrum presenting with Aspergers syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia, social and behavior problems, a pragmatic and semantic language problem... and also has diabetes Type 1 so injects insulin several times a day, a few issues! The middle son escaped the labeling and yet his experience was middle child syndrome. In his case that meant unconsciously seeking attention and wanting a special need, as the other two got lots of attention and time due to their conditions. He became depressed, self harmed and was referred to physcologists, expelled from schools. And had a tough time. As well as the particular circumstances described above, we had the usual teenage challenges and arguments. I found myself battling and not making any head way or improvements. It was difficult. I became depressed, unable to cope, on medication and wondering if it was worth going on. Not a good place to be. Until I discovered my...

Step 1 Personal Power – Taking Control I learnt that we have more control of our lives and what we experience than I realized. We have choice and that gives us power. What a lot of people do is give their own personal power away and become victims. You hear it in phrases like “She makes me so mad” or “He’s really upset me” This implies the other person has the power or ability to cause you to experience the emotions you’re going through. It is so much more empowering to realize, no one has that power, not if you choose otherwise and you can. I am the only person who can decide how I am going to feel about anything, either a situation or something somebody has said. You are the only person who can decide how you are going to feel. In the early days when this way of being was new to me and my boys, I would often slip into the old habit of saying (usually about the state of bedrooms, being horribly untidy!) I’m sick of asking you to tidy up, it makes me so angry!’ And I’d hear the retort, “Then choose not to be” a taste of my own medicine. At first, yes, it’s quite difficult. I had to think to myself. OK no one’s putting a gun to my head to “Make” me feel whatever it is I am feeling. No one is twisting my arm and even if they were I’d still have the choice. I had to learn to take a deep breath, walk away and choose to feel a much more beneficial emotion, change the ‘state’ I was in. You can change your state by leaving the space you’re in, go into a different room, go outside, for a walk, do something different, put upbeat music on, dance, watch a funny film, anything to get away from the situation and let it go without revisiting it or playing it over and over again in your mind.

Step 2 Ditch your “Don’ts” When we communicate with our teenagers, we very often focus on what we don’t want them to do and tell them this! We’re actually bringing attention to something they may never have thought about until we mentioned it and even when we’re saying “don’t” we are causing them to think about it! So what can we say that will help? It’s fascinating to realize that the unconscious mind (and we all have one!) does not directly process negatives. I know I spent a lot of time telling my boys what I didn’t want them to do. We think we’re helping, things like, “Don’t be late” “Don’t leave your room a mess” “Don’t lose your money”, now bearing in mind the “Don’t” isn’t processed, what is heard is “Be late”, “Leave your room a mess”, “Lose your money”! Here’s an exercise for you... Don’t think of a pink elephant! Just by me writing the words, you reading them, you have to think of one to know what not to think of! Strangely enough the unconscious mind really does want to cooperate. We get better results when we say what we do want, not what we don’t! In my case, my first part of the plan was to ask for what I wanted (I didn’t always get it, it needs a few more strategies and tools, still a good starting point) So “Be on time” “Leave your room tidy” and “Keep your money safe” were all positive requests and not focusing on what I didn’t want.

Step 3 Wear Rose Coloured Spectacles As well as spending a lot of time saying “Don’t” we can often criticize our children, finding fault with what they’ve done or not done. Refocus, look for the positive in behavior or the situation. I’ll give the example of one situation that used to drive me mad. My youngest son would leave what I called ‘rubbish’ in his trousers pockets, crisp packets, chocolate bar wrappers, bits of broken plastic, rubber bands, odd coins, buttons, pebbles. All sorts, apparently treasures to him! When I came to put clothes in the wash, I’d feel his pockets and so not to have a broken washing machine, would empty the pockets, it drove me mad and I was constantly saying to him, (often through gritted teeth and with a few aaaarrrrggghhhhs too!) “Don’t leave all this rubbish in your pockets for me to have to empty”. When I understood the unproductive use of the word ‘Don’t’ I realized I was actually asking him to do precisely that! So, a cunning plan was hatched. I realized I needed to say what I did want him to do and find something good to say first. This is refocusing, instead of focusing on the negatives, I wanted to find the positive in it. So I ‘reframed’ the situation, looked at it from a different perspective and said “I’m really glad that you bring your litter home and haven’t just dropped it on the street” Praise immediately, that will feel so much better than a criticism. You now have their attention, they are probably listening now (and the unconscious mind certainly is, enjoying praise) My reconstruction with my son was “ I’m really glad that you bring your litter home and you haven’t just dropped it on the street and what would help me even more is when you throw it away when you get home because that would be really helpful and you can be really helpful can’t you?” The words in bold and underlined are really important to use, they have a ‘hypnotic’ effect, that means the unconscious mind will respond to them and the results will be quite profound.

Step 4 Sit on your ‘Buts’ The whole structure of what you say is crucial and in the past even if I’d started with this positive statement “I’m really glad that you bring your litter home and haven’t just dropped it in the street” I would have immediately followed it with “But, will you please throw it away when you get home”. The thing with “But” is, it’s a negation, it takes away any positive thing you’ve previously said. The initial compliment has been squashed with the critical ‘but’. Simply change your ‘Buts’! STOP using them, sit on them and keep them there! Use ‘And’ instead. Use ‘and’ with a little encouragement and end on a positive note.

Step 5 Limit Their Choice By using ‘when’ and ‘because’. The ‘when’ in the sentence assumes it is going to happen, I know I would have used ‘if’ here in the past, that’s giving choice, it may or may not happen. The ‘when’ is stating it will, it’s just a case of when that will be. I call ‘because’ the magic because, as when we hear that said, we expect a valid reason to follow, the unconscious mind is so programmed! You can even use it when what you say after it doesn’t necessarily make any sense! Try it in the supermarket when you’d like to go in front of someone in the queue at the checkout, say something like “You wouldn’t mind if I go in front of you would you?...because I’ve put the wrong shoes on this morning” More than likely they’ll agree without saying “what’s that got to do with it?”

Step 6 Tag Question Finally, at the end of the sentence is the tag question, ‘can’t you?’ you’ve moved away from the initial subject matter, turned it into a compliment, made a statement that the listener would want to agree with, so you’re eliciting a “Yes” response at the end. You have the person in the agreement frame and unconsciously what they are saying yes to is all that you have just said. This is the magic of language. Start now to use it positively and find that you can make the difference you want to see, as I quoted earlier, Gandhi said it perfectly “You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

So come on, you can do it... Keep control, deep breath in and retain your personal power, you are in control of your response and no one ‘makes’ you be or do anything, you choose it! Get rid of ‘Don’t’, ask for what you do want, not what you don’t! Refocus, look at the situation in a different light, find the positive in it, something to be grateful for and tell them. Reframe the whole event or situation and use magic language. Start with the positive, use ‘and’ not ‘but’, ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, add because to give validity and end with the tag question. Respect our children as we would other human beings, ones that we love. Remember they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Please pass this on and help make a difference. Parenting is a privilege and I truly believe we are parenting ‘magic’ when we parent our children because that’s what they are. Happy Parenting! Love from,



6 Steps to Successful Parenting  

Guide to parenting teenagers