Making the world a better place for children and those who love and care for them

Talking to Children in Ways that Invite Cooperation

We’ve always heard that how we say something is more important than what we say.  Now we know why.  It’s because of mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons allow us to tune in to the movements and feelings of others and are often referred to as “monkey see, monkey do” neurons.  They read someone else’s intention as if we were experiencing it ourselves.

Think about when you see a person pour themselves a glass of water.  We assume that their intent is to drink it and we often begin to desire a glass of water ourselves.

Or apply it to emotions.  If someone is angry with us, our initial response will often be anger in return or if someone is smiling at us, our natural response is to smile back.

Mirror neurons provide another reason (in addition to the need to always show respect for children) why it’s so important to talk to children in calm and non threatening ways. When we command something in anger, we invite defiance and anger from the child. 

But when we request something in a pleasant way, we invite a more cooperative response.

Apply this information to the two previous blog posts (June 27 & 29, 2013) that talk about communicating in ways that empower children – i.e. through choices (with “you decide”) and asking “empowerment questions.

How we say the two magical words “you decide” or ask a question will make all the difference.  If we use a sarcastic, impatient or angry tone – that is quite likely what we will get in return.

              Mirror Neurons in Action.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Mother and Babyfather son conflict


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