1. Verbalize the steps you go through as they occur. Lost your car keys? Talk about where you last remember seeing them, where you usually put them, and who might also have had access to them. Enlist the assistance of others who might have an idea where to find them. (I'll confess that the last time I lost my car keys, my kids and I found them in the bathroom trash--long story, but these steps helped us experience success before the garbage truck arrived to remove our trash!) Are you planning a special meal? Talk about which ingredients you have in the house, and what you'll need to purchase from the store. Talk about the amount of time you'll need to prepare the meal, cook it, and get ready to eat it (setting the table, pouring beverages, etc.) And don’t forget to enlist help in the various steps!
2. Involve others whenever possible. Do they have chores? Can they help make a grocery list or clip coupons before going to the store? Can they bake cookies or help set the table? If you've encountered a problem in the classroom, could the students help brainstorm possible solutions? Involvement helps people take ownership in a process…and hands-on learning is typically more effective than just being told something or simply observing.
3. Emphasize choices. Make sure you provide choices that you can live with, whether you're empowering the individual to choose between three outfits for school in the morning, or between two lunch options, or between a few chores that need to be done. Name the choice (i.e. Healthy choice, friendly choice, helpful choice, creative choice), and praise them for the choice they've made. Discuss current events, explaining the choices others made, and ask your children or students what they would do if they were in that situation, and work together to make realistic guesses about how the outcome could have differed if different choices had been made.
4. Provide natural consequences. Did they make an ineffective or unexpected choice? Help them to see how their choice differed from better options and how their choice led to the current consequences. Whenever possible, make sure they are given information in advance about the consequences of the choices they make (i.e.” If you use the time remaining to finish your math assignment, you can go out for recess. However, if you choose to do other things between now and then, and your math assignment does not get finished before the bell rings, you will need to miss recess to complete the math paper.”)
5. When needed, provide visuals to increase understanding. Linda Hodgdon is a wonderful author who specializes in visual strategies. More information can be found in her book, Visual Strategies for Improving Communication.
In my previous article, I detailed three factors that may contribute to an individual's perception that success comes easily or automatically, without effort. Here's one more! I believe that our entertainment industry has fostered the notion of success without work, and choices without consequences. The games, DVDs, and TV shows which occupy our children's time often have very little connection to reality, and may serve to counteract your attempts to teach these important life lessons. Consider how your children and students are spending their time. Do things simply appear to happen in front of their eyes, or with the flip of a finger? If so, you may need to reduce the amount of time spent on these pursuits, or take time to talk about how they differ from real life.
We can play an important role in helping others work toward successful outcomes. I hope these suggestions have been helpful for you. If you have other ideas, feel free to post those on our FACEBOOK page or on our blog at www.socialincites.com!
Next week I'll share some tips that I use to work toward success in my own life. Hopefully they'll help you keep stepping forward in your own life!