To change behavior of a young person, a positive approach always beats a negative approach. The way to accomplish this is to treat the youngster as if the person were already what you want the person to become. Perhaps Johann Wolfgang von Goethe articulated it best when he wrote,
If you treat someone as he is, he will stay as he is.
But if you treat him as if he were what he could and ought to be,
he will become what he could and ought to be.
If you have a daughter who is shy, rather than sending messages of her difficulties, treat her as if she were verbal, popular, and socially confident. This does not mean not to recognize her feelings. However, so often young people need to believe that someone else believes in them before the person’s own belief sets in. To put it another way, some children need the confidence of others in themselves before their own confidence grows. A positive vision will always bring more success than a negative one.
If you communicate that the person has the power to encounter the situation—instead of trying to solve it for the youngster—the person will learn effective ways to do so with her or his own resources.
Parents cannot fix problems they don’t own. The problem invariably resides with the person’s self-talk. Talking to the child in empowering ways can do much to help the youngster change his or her own mindset. The more you send messages that the person is competent in the area under question, the greater the chance of the youngster’s changing her or his own self-talk, which is where any change always starts.