Using a Story to Get Past a Sibling Fight

This morning I woke up at 5:45 and spent some time working for about an hour, followed by a nice jog through my neighbourhood. I had a nice experience doing a good deed for someone, which I’ll get to in a moment.

But the real point of this post is how I used my story (how I helped someone) to change the emotional state of my kids.

Last night, my youngest daughter, Elizabeth, went into her older sister’s room and took a stuffed animal out of a little basket where many of these “pets” sit as decorative friends in her room.

It was a little fluffy pink piggy. It had pretty much never been used, and Liz decided to take it and snuggle with it at night, in her bed.

In the morning, Anne noticed Liz holding “Piggy”. She realized it had been swiped from her room. They started fighting about it instantly.

I had just gotten home from my jog and needed a shower. So I took Piggy and told the girls I’d be hiding him for a bit, until we all go downstairs to have breakfast and talk about it. I explained that Piggy would return as soon as they get calm, and we all talk about it.

I took my shower and headed downstairs for breakfast. We discussed what happened, and told Liz that she can’t just go stealing stuff from her sister’s room. I gave Piggy back to Anne.

Now, what do you think happened here? Of course Liz was pretty ticked about this. She sees it as belonging to her even though it doesn’t. She was pretty upset about it, tears and everything.

Watching this whole thing unwind, it was obvious that both of the girls were going to continue to misbehave until their emotional states changed. Keep in mind that this is what I teach to parents every day! The emotional state of someone is what drives his or her behavior.

How do you change someone’s emotional state? Stories are FANTASTIC tools to accomplish this.

My kids love dogs. Especially puppy dogs. And I had the perfect story to tell. It had just happened that morning on my jog.

I interrupted their argument and told them to come closer to me, because I had a story to tell them about something that happened to me while jogging earlier this morning.

The key in telling a story is to really build up the events so it has an emotional impact, so keep that in mind as I tell you what happened.

In short, as I was finishing my jog, I came across a young woman who was clearly trying to break into her own car. She had a wire coat hanger in hand, and was trying to get the door open. It took me a moment to realize that she may need to call someone for help.

I stopped and asked her if she was locked out. Not only was she locked out, but her little puppy, a cute Black Labrador, was locked inside the car.

The window was open a couple of inches, and she was trying to use the coat hanger to pull the door latch from the inside of the car. She wasn’t having any luck.

I casually said to her, “I can get the door open for you. Can I have the coat hanger?” She handed it to me. It took me only a minute, but I was able to bend the hanger into a more rigid shape, allowing me to pull with enough force on the door latch.

The door popped open and the young woman let out a HUGE sigh of relief. Her puppy jumped into her arms. She wass thrilled.

… and I felt like a tiny bit of a hero. I think I made her day.

The effect on my girls, and the secret agenda

This story completely changed the emotional state of my kids. They love dogs, and the idea of me “saving” this little puppy was fascinating for them. So it put them into a pretty happy mood.

My youngest daughter, Liz, didnt forget about the Piggy situation. But she was behaving better. She was starting to ask nicely if they could perhaps share the stuffed animal.

Anne got another idea. She wanted to keep it a secret from Liz. She whispered in my ear that she was going to GIVE Piggy to Liz after school today. As a present.

I smiled.

My story obviously didn’t have anything to do with good deeds, helping others, and begin selfless, right? No, of course not :)

As many of you know, I’m trained in NLP and I’m a certified master hypnotist, having trained under Dr. Mike Mandel. Often, people react as if hypnosis is some kind of Voodoo. It really isn’t.

What I did with my girls (story telling) is essentially hypnosis. It’s covert, conversational hypnosis. The trance occurs when you occupy someone else’s attention with interesting content. The change occurs when you give the unconscious mind suggestions, which are more easily accepted because the conscious mind is not in the way trying to act as the goalie, keeping the puck out of the net.

The story is just the construct. It occupies the other person’s attention. The message, embedded within the story, is what causes change.

All of the tools that I teach in my Talking to Toddlers audio course come from my training in NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis, and interpersonal communication. That’s why they work so darn well!

Anyway, I wrote this to share a story with you. And the story is about how stories can create change. I hope you enjoyed it.

For further reading, you might want to check out Toddler Parenting and Waiting on Tables: What They Have in Common and What Exactly are the Terrible Twos.

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids

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2 Responses to Using a Story to Get Past a Sibling Fight

  1. rekha garg June 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Thanks Chris,
    I like your soundbites as they are easy to follow. Would this one help with fights over sharing toys with friends , or there another technique which is better. My 3 year old son has screaming fits when another child picks up his toys. He knows how to share but seems unable to help his feelings. He does admit afterwards that he felt angry, I never know how to respond.

  2. Mineke June 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Hi Chris

    I have bought all your audio’s and listened to most of your free advice as well. Those are amazingly simple tools and make life a whole lot easier and happier while dealing with little ones AND adults. Yep, it works on adults too. The double binds, the yes sets, but most of all, to connect with the emotional state, instead of using logic while dealing with negative (emotional) behaviour.

    Many thanks, keep the good work going and warm greetings from New Zealand.


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