What I am teaching my 4yo that could turn people management upside down

I have an 18month old and a 4 year old, and I now dedicate huge amounts of my personal time and energy into loving and teaching them about their behaviours and choices – why? Because they NEED it.

Before I did the work on myself I used to get agitated, frustrated, annoyed and angry when my then 3 year old misbehaved, anyone with kids, especially small ones will know how hard it can be.

Let’s be frank – they can sometimes be very inconvenient, they get in the way of your agenda for the day, they get in the way of getting to school on time, they create mess, they want to do things that takes effort on our part, they want us just when we need to sit down for 5 minutes, they argue with siblings, wind each other up, scream, dig, bang, run around the house, it’s relentless.

It is so very very easy to bark at them to stop, or to dismiss their requests for your time and energy and actually for most of us the best we can manage is to just react in the moment to what is going on.

But I learnt the error of my ways, and I learnt about the damage I was doing every time I got angry and shouted at them or dismissed them – once I learnt about that I then saw it in all its glory – at 3 I was already creating negative and destructive behaviours in my baby girl that knows no better – she would blindly live with these all her life.

Now I dedicate myself to learning more each day, I get it wrong, mess up, still get agitated – but now I OWN it, I don’t blame her for my agitation I sit and calmly explain that she IS NOT the cause of my agitation, and when someone gets angry with her it says more about them than it does about her, and at 4 years old, she really does understand.

Rather than getting angry I now apply consequences, delivered without frustration, simply to help her learn and grow

Why is this so important? When she goes to school, goes to work, gets into a relationship, she won’t really experience personal emotional pain when someone verbally attacks her – because she will have learnt from a very young age – it’s about them not her.

What freedom is this? To be free of fear about what others think of you? Name someone you know who can say this about themselves, I bet you can’t – or they may say so, does not make it true, invariably, there WILL be someone.

Additionally I have seen a significant and noticeable difference in her behaviour, how she interacts with her sister in particular, she is gentler, more caring, less agitated, she accepts consequences that are imposed without much upset, and generally she seems happier and really content within herself.  We recently drove for four hours on a motorway with both kids in the back, with no drama, and no upsets – it was great fun.

What are the consequences of not teaching this to my baby girl? When she grows up and someone attacks her verbally she will react out of pain, for example she may well attack back to protect herself, the other person may well then do the same again, each time they will elaborate the truth to make them more right and the other more wrong, and both will end up in conflict and lies – both leading to unhappiness.

This type of thing is going on ALL THE TIME!!

So it’s really important to me that I teach her the truth: You are responsible for how you behave and they are responsible for how they react.

Another consequence was that even by age 4 she was beginning to lie and hated taking responsibility for what she had done, she would lie when she had “done something wrong” and blame her sister – I had created this! My 4 year old was already afraid of my disapproval of her – AT 4!

I now have to demonstrate with my behaviour over and over, and teaching her over and over that she does not need to be afraid, and that even when she does do something “wrong” or “bad” that does not make her a “bad” person.  This one lesson would make the difference between lots of future emotional pain, and REAL happiness.

I, like many others was/am (to a significant lesser degree) afraid of dis approval – we find as adults that when we bring this out into the light it starts to dissolve – like ice to the sun.

So, what are the implications of this in business?

Significant, very significant.

1. When you work on development plans and succession planning there is an assumption that the base personality traits are fixed ie anger, praise seeker, afraid to challenge others etc etc – this is not true.  What you see is actually a representation of what each individual has learnt and experienced – nobody is born with anger – all negative traits can be undone – that fundamentally changes all development and succession planning the world over

2. There is little understanding about human behaviour – when we demonstrate our dis-approval, even with a look, we are tapping straight into old emotional wounds – people FEEL this – both you and them will experience this blindly – NOBODY will be at their best, or perform their best while this goes on

3. There is very little if any common understanding about Fear, what it is, how it manifests itself, and more importantly how to eradicate it

4. You cannot combat anger with anger, and fear with fear – when you get angry or frustrated (however slight) it may appear to create action or movement – this is temporary, anger does have energy, but ultimately it’s destructive

5. Typically negative behaviour is dealt with by using more negative behaviour – it is judged, people are judged – know that they are simply reacting to what they were taught – it’s a self re-enforcing paradigm

6. There is a monumental waste of talent because of the assumption made in 1.

7. There is HUGE waste created, that, if this work is applied will slowly disappear

8. The changes effect people’s lives – the benefits are far more reaching than the workplace

9. Stress is widely accepted as the biggest cause of absence – stress can be eliminated in those that do the work

10. Employee engagement is widely accepted as a significant driver of people performance – this work will influence engagement in more ways than anything else you can do – if people FEEL cared for, they would work for less money and from a shed (not that we would do that 😉 )

11. Fear cripples the ability of the business to truly learn and grow, just like my baby girl

12. Over time, the language of the workplace will be that of truth, you will not be able to blame your negative behaviour on external causes, we must take responsibility for it and doing so actually creates and supports personal happiness

13. The lies slowly disappear, or stick out like a sore thumb

14. I am just a “normal” guy with “normal” kids bringing them up “normally” – this is the problem – negative behaviour is so very “normal” it’s accepted as part of life – we were not born angry praise seeking victims and we don’t need to be either – just look around you, it is everywhere.  We do not need to live with it any longer.

So – I am learning all the time how to demonstrate with my behaviour that my little baby girls are important, incredibly important, bar my wife there is NO thing that will come before them and what they need, it takes almost constant work on my part to get myself out the way, to stop selfishly concerning myself about what I want.  Ultimately this is what every human being the world over wants to FEEL, they want to FEEL like we care about them, really care – you give them this and they will reward you in ways you could never imagine – not that you expected to be, “engagement” is simply a measure of how much people care, well, its time we walk first.

So you see – what I am teaching my 4 year old has far reaching lessons to business and the workplace, and I’d be happy to share this with you any time so you too can benefit as I have.

If you want to learn more about human behaviour contact me at tom.manning@inspiredchangeuk.com

Tom