Want your kids to behave? Maybe Derren Brown can help...

by - Saturday, June 16, 2007

Before you get worried, I'm not suggesting that you hypnotise your little angels in order to teach them good behaviour! This is something I came across a few weeks ago, discovered that it seems to work, and thought I'd share with you other mums and dads who may be interested too.

On Derren Brown's website, I came across a section about the power of suggestion (for those of you unfamiliar with Derren Brown, he is a "magician" of sorts, mostly interested in psychology and misdirection, and very entertaining!). Derren explains that all suggestions to a person's behaviour should be positive in order to be successful: negative suggestions simply do not work on the subconscious mind.

IE: if I were to say "Don't think about butterflies", what would be the first insect which popped into your head? On the other hand, if I were to say "Think about bumble bees" instead, you would probably not think of butterflies at all.

Are you with me so far?

Well, going on from this, my thoughts strayed to the kids, and how they almost always do the opposite of what I say to them. Especially Little Angel! When I say "don't touch that!", she invariably does so anyway. Highly frustrating! So I decided to do a little experiment: as often as I could remember to do so, I changed the phrases I use when chastising the kids, some examples being:
  • Instead of "don't touch that", try "leave it alone"
  • Rather than "don't go into the busy road", I'd say "stay on the pavement".

I made a mental note each time as to whether or not it worked. I didn't expect it to, kids being kids and all, but you know what? It worked more often then not. Which is a big difference, considering my "suggestions" previously had caused such endless frustration at the lack of accomplishment!

So perhaps kids are more susceptible to the power of suggestion than we adults feel we are. Any more childcare tips Derren?

Technorati Tags:

You May Also Like


  1. Brilliant idea! I'll definitely be trying this out.

  2. I hope it works for you too, Tracy! In a way it's making me feel more positive too, as I'm no longer saying "stop it" and "don't" all the time, and using positive words instead.