Creating momentum for positive change

18 June 2018

Creating momentum for positive change

  • Behaviour
by Michael Grose

Currently, I’m reading about Sir John Monash, the first Australian-born general to command Australian troops in World War 1. He was an amazing figure, as unlike his foolhardy predecessors, he refused to sacrifice troops as cannon fodder in the fields of France. He is widely attributed with turning the tide of the war to the Allies’ way through his assiduous planning and attention to detail.

Equally pivotal to his success was his ability to change the mindset of the troops from defensive to offensive. This was no mean feat as they’d been stuck in trenches for months. The troops he inherited in 1918 over hadn’t experienced military success of any note for over two years. Monash engineered a series of continuous mini-raids on the enemy so that his troops could feel success again.

Monash knew about the secret power of momentum. The more they succeeded in battle, the more his troops wanted to experience success. He built a culture of success in his forces by starting small and then harnessing the power of momentum. This powerful momentum principle applies to equally to families as it does to the battlefield. Here are four areas you can harness momentum for positive change:

Developing independence

If a child is very reliant on others then consider to creating opportunities for them to resolve small every day problems themselves. Let them experience what it’s like to be a problem-solver. For instance, rather than resolving a child’s sibling conflict issues give him or her clues and ideas to help them get their own way with a sibling. They may not experience success every time but little by little they begin to see themselves as capable of resolving their own problems/

Building confidence

Self-esteem can be boosted in similar ways. If your child lacks confidence to mingle and meet new friends consider helping him or her experience social successes in smaller, more intimate settings. For instance, encourage him or her to invite one friend at a time to your place, as it’s easier to form friendships singularly in familiar territory. Also encourage your child to spend more time in activities that they do well in so that they experience confidence more often and for longer. Self-esteem is usually built little by little.

Being cooperative

Cooperative behaviour can similarly be built through momentum. Often uncooperative kids receive a great deal of B-grade, negative attention (plenty of reminders, lots of nagging, being yelled at) for their lack of cooperation. Catch them being cooperative in small ways (cleaning away dishes without being asked, being kind to a sibling, using manners with an adult) so that they experience what it’s like doing the right thing.

Helping others

Help your kids experience the appreciation of others that comes from their small acts of kindness, generosity and help. Feeling appreciated for their small contributions (loaning a toy to a friend) and acts of selflessness (giving up a seat in the bus to an elderly person) can be just the tonic some kids need to see themselves as positive contributors to their families and others groups.

Small changes create the momentum needed that leads to significant behavioural changes. The opposite to momentum is inertia, which means nothing much will change in your family regardless of how much you remind, challenge or hassle your kids.

Get some movement in the direction you want (better behaviour/more cooperation/more helpfulness/greater confidence) and let the magic of momentum take over to get significant changes you want to see in your kids or family-life.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s the author of 10 books for parents including Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It, and his latest release Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children.