If you are a parent or have a child in your life, you have probably found yourself offering advice and reinforcement: “Be careful,” “Button your coat,” “Share!” – and when they eat their vegetables or achieve a milestone: “Good job.” What if these comments are more about adult control than actual child learning? (Tweet it!)
Jennifer Lehr, author of the new book Parentspeak: What’s Wrong with How we Speak to our Children—and What to Say Instead, says it’s better to be a wingman, someone who has their child’s back and, in so doing, models appropriate interactions.
For example, if someone gives their child a gift, a parent often defaults to saying something like, “Can you say thank you?” Using the wingman approach, the parent might say something like, “Thank you, Aunt Sue, for giving Maggie such a beautiful sweater.” Much of the time, the child will join in and mirror the parent’s thank you — and consequently hardwire the response on their own.
Have you ever tried the wingman approach? What did you notice? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.