Maren Schmidt: Asking children for what you want

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The best selling book, The Secret, talks about the problem of not having a clear vision of what we want. We spend the majority of our time avoiding or getting rid of stuff in our lives that we don't want. Wherever we place our focus, is what grows. The more we direct our attention on getting rid of the stuff we don't want, the more we attract exactly the situations we don't want in our lives.

We need to focus on the situations we do want. Some call it the power of a positive mental attitude.

In guiding our children, one could say that being positive is essential. The more we focus on behaviors we don't desire in our children, the more our children seem to be involved in those behaviors. It's easy to get caught in a downward spiral of only catching our children doing something they shouldn't and not seeing the wonderful things they do.

The secret of breaking out of a downward spiral is simply this: Concentrate on what you do want. But remember the old saying: Be careful what you wish for; you may get it. Clear thoughts and desires that include the consequences of getting what we asked for should be considered when making requests.

At a communications workshop we played a game called "Airplane." One person, the airplane, puts on a blindfold. The room is then set up with obstacles. The navigator's job is to get the airplane across the room without crashing into the obstacles.

The game starts after spinning the airplane around three or four times. The navigator directs the airplane: Take three steps to your left. The airplane echoes the command, ending with a "Roger." The navigator continues to give commands until the airplane safely lands.

In this game, the person playing the airplane has to trust the navigator after being spun around confuses his or her sense of direction. The navigator has to be clear and direct, otherwise the airplane crashes crash into chairs, walls and other people. Even when the navigator thinks he or she is giving clear directions, the airplane's actions can be decidedly otherwise.

For added laughs and confusion we added "weather" cards, a set of cards containing bits of information, such as: Turbulent head winds move you three steps backwards; tailwinds are strong. Move three giant steps forward; you're flying in to a thunderstorm. Turn around 180 degrees. These three cards could be called out by the "weatherman" and interjected at any point in the airplane's flight. This game can last for quite a while as everybody takes a turn playing the role of airplane, navigator and weatherman.

"Airplane" is a great listening exercise for family or classroom fun. I've played it with 3-year-olds and 63-year-olds for some hilarity in learning a communication secret.

The Secret? Ask for what you want in a clear and positive manner. Asking for what you don't want gets you nowhere, alone and confused. Or falling on your backside, wondering what just happened.

Next Week: Giving Positive Directions

Write to Maren at Maren@KidsTalkNews.com.

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