Parenting and the communication you use to your child is certainly one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent. It’s a 24hr job! And your little Gremlin/s (loveable of course), are always watching/or listening to your every move!
Let me introduce you to a concept you may have not given much thought to… or even heard of for that matter- Framing!
Framing is simply choosing a word that is likely to alter your perception of an experience- more specifically in a positive light!
To give this some context I’ll give you an example of what I faced as a coach several years ago. It might strike a chord.
On this particular day, a parent (for this purpose his name can be Alberto) cold called me to discuss his child’s (let’s call him Dillon) commitment or lack thereof to his ‘Recovery Rides’. An avid cyclist (no cycling wasn’t part of the schools sporting options) was Alberto… Oh, and Dillon that he was enquiring if there was any ‘Research’ to the optimal km’s children should be riding p/week?
CEO parent?... You think?!
Firstly, I’ll point out I’m not from a Cycling background, but secondly, I’m pretty confident there isn’t an idealistic number to answer his question- particularly for that of a 12yr old boy (Yr. 7), let alone supported by his request of ‘Research.’
As the conversation evolved it turned out Dillon would accompany Alberto and his cycling buddies on their weekly recovery rides which contributed to Dillon’s weekly volume (km’s) p/week. Alberto was concerned that Dillon wasn’t as passionate about the recovery rides as he was but was actually more in tune/aligned with Alberto’s mate’s distaste for them.
… enter the topic of Framing. I queried how Dillon knew they were ‘Recovery Rides’ and how Alberto had decided to structure these into Dillon’s weekly training schedule… Or Financial Forecast? (Whoops- Yes, I did just do that!)
Alberto had referred to the rides as just that, and as would his cycling buddies. So, after acknowledging my lack of detailed understanding of the sport and what the true definition of a ‘MAMIL’ actually meant (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) I introduced framing and if any thought had been given to it?
Aside from suggesting a possible ditch of the recovery rides (remembering Dillon was still playing sport for the school which further contributed to his excessive weekly training loads), I suggested re-framing these specific rides.
Side note- ditch the recovery ride due to excessive training loads?! Was I mad- Yep totally, to a CEO parent I can be M-A-D!
Dillon only knew of them as recovery rides due to being informed of them by Alberto. He then had a choice to confirm and enjoy them like his father, or rebel and possibly get some additional reinforcement (otherwise known as ‘likes’ these days) from the road gang by further supporting their suggestive comments.
He chose option B, which for him might have felt great getting a few back slaps from the lads! No doubt it was probably one of the reasons for Alberto’s call.
I suggested the rides be referred to as a ‘Technical Session’ moving forward. That way Dillon no longer looked at the negative connotation of recovery rides, but rather an additional opportunity to work on his technique and possibly build a bond with his father further through positive reinforcement. This was a revelation to Alberto!
The only catch I further provided was that Alberto tip the rest of the gang off on what he and Dillon would be working on so Dillon could enjoy the moment, and possibly get further positive reinforcement from the other gents in floral tights. Game changer!
Alberto contacted me a few weeks later to say what a great idea it was, and that not only had Dillon really progressed, but he was stoked they had ditched the recovery rides.
To me it highlighted one thing as a parent. As a parent you have the maturity, life experience, and foresight to shape your child’s perception of the world and their experiences within it. Choose your language wisely, and in these instances try framing in your situation to get the best out of them.
Because there is only a small window of opportunity where framing can work a treat before they realise, you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Embrace it, because when that time comes, you’ll realise your child, or by that stage teenager may then have an opinion, and in some instances may not want to go for rides with you and your crew- but rather start one of his own!