The business of behaviour . A new approach in teaching kids how to listen

The business of behaviour . A new approach in teaching kids how to listen

Being a parent is a full-time business so why not use business books to help us?

This is our tongue-in-cheek review of Jonah Berger’s book ‘Catalyst’ which discusses how to overcome inertia, incite action, and change minds.

Jonah’s research uncovered the REDUCE framework which showed that there are five key barriers that are often encountered when trying to change people’s minds. He called these the five horsemen of inertia;

1. Reactance

2. Endowment

3. Distance

4. Uncertainty, and

5. Corroborating Evidence

What if we could apply Jonah’s REDUCE framework when trying to instill a new habit in our kids or improve some of their behaviours?

In this post we’ll take a look at the first of these — Reactance.

Disclaimer: We don’t encourage treating your kids like businesses. They require a massive outlay for the first 20 years and are unlikely to provide a rate of return on that investment. We are not liable for any tantrums, confusion or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided here.

R  —  Reactance.

People need freedom. They like feeling they have control over their choices and actions and when others threaten or restrict their freedom, they get upset.

People push back when pushed.

We have an innate anti-persuasion radar and our kids, just like their fortified cubby houses, have all their defences up when you ask them to do anything which involves some discomfort.

They will argue, debate or downright refuse, and our usual approach is do some coaxing, gentle convincing, pleading, and then the tendency is to push and keep pushing a little harder.

But Jonah argues that people need to be encouraged to convince themselves.

If telling our kids what to do doesn’t work, what does? 

Here are 4 techniques you could try out.

1. Highlight the Gap. You need to try and find a way to bring attention to the disconnect between their thoughts and actions, or between them asking others to do something versus doing it themselves.

For example, you could say: “If your younger sister was behaving like this, what would you tell them?”

The theory is that when there is a disconnect between what they’re thinking and how they’re acting, then there is a discomfort, and they’ll take steps to bring things back in line.

2. Provide a Menu. For example, instead of saying “It’s time to put your shoes on” try “Are you wearing your trainers or your sandals today?” Rather than counterarguing or thinking about all the reasons they disagree with a statement, their little brains are churning over a different task: figuring out an answer to the question.

3. Ask, don’t tell. “Do you think lollies are good for you?” If they answer no, they’re now in a tough position. By encouraging them to articulate their opinion, they have to admit that those things aren’t good for them. And once they’ve done that, it becomes harder to justify the bad behaviours.

4. Ask for less. The final approach to dealing with reactance is to ask for less. Instead of going straight to the 20 minutes of music practice, try for 5 minutes for a few weeks and then build up to 7 minutes and so on. A good visual timer, such as the Tok Timer, can help with this practice.

Let us know if you see Reactance in your kids and have you tried the above strategies? Reach out via our instagram page.