Practicing positivity requires painting positive mental pictures. Let’s see how this works. Imagine you have just arrived at a restaurant that does not take reservations. The lobby is full of people waiting to be seated. The host says to you, “I don’t have any tables right now. You’ll have to wait 30 minutes.” Now picture the same situation again, except this time the host says to you, “I’ll have a wonderful table for you in half an hour.” Notice the difference in how you received the information. The chances that you’ll actually wait to eat at the restaurant are greater in hearing the second message.
Why? Because the brain thinks in pictures, rather than in words, so the words you use, especially with children, are crucial. Additionally, the human brain is very susceptible to suggestions. Just for a moment, don’t think of a pretty white kitten with a red bow around its neck. Now don’t think of a grey elephant with pink dots. Don’t visualize the color blue. What did you visualize? Now, try to visualize “Don’t.” Can you? Neither can children. When a child hears, “Don’t run in the house,” the picture in the child’s mind is one of running in the house. If you say, “We walk in the house,” walking is what the child visualizes. Positive messages encourage the youngster to respond to your request.
By describing what you want rather than what you don’t want, you can also avoid the problem of stopping one undesirable behavior only to have your youngster engage in a different one that is also counterproductive. In response to a positive message, the young person will strive to follow your suggestion, as in, “If you use the fork to tap the rhythm on your knee rather than on the table, you can still enjoy doing it without bothering others.”
Being aware that the brain processes information in pictures can help you become significantly more effective. Success depends upon the pictures you paint—both for yourself and for others.