Influence Youth

To understand how much more powerful it is to influence youth rather than overpower them, consider this short story:

A young boy was to start kindergarten the next day and was protesting that he would not go. A normal parental reaction would have been to banish the youngster to his room and tell him that he had better make up his mind to go because he had no choice. (Note: the youngster may have had no choice as to the decision but he certainly had a choice as to how he could react to it.)

Rather than taking this approach, the father reflected, “If I were my son, why would I be excited to go to kindergarten?”

The father and his wife made a list of all the fun things the child would do, such as finger painting, singing songs, and making new friends. Then they decided to do some finger-painting themselves. The youngster saw the fun his parents were having and wanted to join in.

“Oh, no! You have to go to kindergarten first to learn how to finger-paint,” remarked the mother.

Then the parents shared with their son the other fun activities they had listed.

The next morning as the father passed the living room to go into the kitchen, he saw his son asleep on the sofa. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

The son responded, “I’m waiting to go to kindergarten, and I don’t want to be late.”

Asking, “How can I influence the person to WANT to do what I would like the person to do?” is a hallmark of successful parents, teachers, and leaders.