Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating

Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating

I don’t really like to admit it, but I have a bad habit of procrastinating.

If there’s something that I need to do that, for whatever reason, I don’t really want to do, I’m pretty good at distracting myself with other ‘important’ jobs.

This is a habit I’m trying to break though.  I dread to think how much time I’ve wasted over the years procrastinating instead of just cracking on with the work that needs to be done.

If you’re like me and you want to break your habit of procrastinating, and start taking action and making changes in your life, then try this really simple trick.

Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating

 

The next time you have something to do, count backwards from 5 and then just DO IT.

 

Let’s say you need to make a phone call to book your smear test.  This seems like something that most of us women have put off doing at one point or another right?

When you see the letter reminding you to book the appointment and think ‘I should book that now’, simply count down from 5 and when you get to 0 you grab the phone and dial.

Don’t give yourself enough time to come up with excuses as to why you shouldn’t do it right now.

 

It’s a really simple idea, but so effective in helping beat procrastination and stopping fear and excuses having time to take over and stop us from taking action.

 

I only came across this idea quite recently when I discovered the amazing Mel Robbins.

She’s written a whole book on it – the five second rule – that is well worth a look if you want to really get into the psychology behind this.

I watched an interview with her where she explained how powerful this rule has been for her, and so many other people since she started talking about it.

 

You can apply it to pretty much any area of your life.

Mel talks about how for her it started with forcing herself to get out of bed in the morning instead of hitting the snooze button on her alarm.

She had the thought that she would jump out of bed, then counted 5-4-3-2-1 and did it.  Before she had a chance to think about it and give in to the thoughts of how much cosier it would be to just stay in bed.

 

We can use it is so many different situations though, and the principle is always the same.

The moment you have a thought about acting on a goal of any kind, count down from 5 and then take action.  Any longer than that and you’ll start coming up with excuses and ways to procrastinate.

 

See the thing is, our brains are wired to protect us.  They will do whatever they can to keep us safe.  Which is lovely and all, but not all that useful when we end up reacting to ‘making a phone call’ as if it were a genuine threat to us.

If we’re not careful we analyse the situation far more than we need to.  We convince ourselves of all sorts of reasons why it’s safer for us to not make that call.  Or that now isn’t the perfect time to do it, because the children will surely interrupt us, or the washing needs to be put on the line and that’s more important right now.

 

The trick is to take action straight away, before we start thinking and then over-thinking.

 

Mel Robbins explains it like this:

“You have five seconds.  Start counting backward to yourself from five to one, then move.  If you don’t move within five seconds, your brain will kill the idea and you’ll talk yourself out of doing it.”

 

There is some fascinating psychology behind this that Mel goes into in more detail in her book and on her website.  But the general idea is that taking action quickly like this wakes up the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain that’s involved with things like decision making and working towards goals.

Firing up this part of our brains by taking action makes us feel more in control.

And when we feel that more parts of our lives are in our control then we’ll take more action again and again to get the things we want and achieve our goals.

 

The more you read into it the more complex it actually is.

But the beauty of it is that you don’t need to read more into it.  You don’t have to understand why exactly this works.  You just need to do it.

Count backwards from five, then GO.

Phrases to calm an angry child

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

One of the hardest things for children to learn is how to handle big emotions like anger.

To be fair, it can be really hard for us adults too.  I know I don’t always behave all that nicely when I’m feeling really angry or upset.  But at least as we get older we, hopefully, have learnt tools and coping mechanisms to work through these feelings.

Children though don’t have this experience yet.  They really feel these big emotions, often over things that we as parents don’t quite understand, and can find it hard to cope and to work through them.

If you’re struggling to know how to help your child when they really feel angry about something, then here are 9 different things you can try saying to them that might help.

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

1. I can see that you feel angry.

Or frustrated.  Or upset.  Or whatever word best describes the emotion that your child is expressing.

One of the first things to try is to name the emotion for them.  This helps them feel like you understand and are listening to how they’re feeling.  It also starts to make them more aware of what different emotions feel like to them.

 

2. Can you tell me what’s happened?

This lets you get to the root cause of their anger and gives them a chance to talk it through.  When you ask this question, make sure you really take the time to listen.  Don’t interrupt, don’t try to reason with them as they’re telling you what has made them angry.

Just let them tell you the whole story in their own time.

 

3. Everyone feels angry at times and that’s OK

Let your child know that anger is a valid emotion to feel.  It’s OK if they feel angry; we all do at times.

Knowing you understand how they’re feeling can really help your child feel validated in their emotions, and to feel heard by you.

 

4. It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to…

…hit.  Or break things.  Or call people names.

This lets them know that the emotion is valid but that the behaviour they’re showing while they’re angry isn’t acceptable.

 

5. Would you like to try…

… taking some calming breaths.  Or doing a warrior cry.

Offer a suggestion of something your child can do to try and calm themselves down.  But ask them if they’d like to try it, rather than telling them that they have to do it.  Give them the choice and the control over the situation.

Don’t overwhelm them with lots of suggestions either.  Offer one or two ideas and then give them space to think it over.

 

6. I’m here and you’re safe

Our emotions can get all jumbled up at times, and quite often when our children feel angry they also feel scared and unsafe.  Letting them know that you’re there, by their side, and that they’re safe can go a long way to helping them feel calmer.

 

7. I’m going to sit over here

If your child is right in the eye of the storm then let them know that you’ll be sitting close by.  Or just in the other room.  This gives them the space to work through their anger while knowing that you’re still nearby, ready to help them when they’re ready to let you.

 

8. Can I help you?

When your child is angry they may well  be feeling completely out of control, so asking them if they’d like your help gives them back a sense of control.  They can decide if they want a bit of time and space or if they want you to sit with them and help them calm down.

 

9.  I love you

Our children need to be reminded that even when they’re angry we still love them.  We might not like the way they’re talking or acting when they’re angry, but we will always love them.  We need to be that safe place for our children where they know they’re loved no matter what.

 

There’s no one magic phrase that will immediately calm an angry child down.

The main thing for us as parents to remember is that, as much as possible, we need to keep calm ourselves.  If we start to get frustrated too then we won’t get anywhere.  We need to be the calm in the storm.  Easier said than done at times I know, and if you do get angry too then make sure to talk about it afterwards once you’ve both calmed down.

If you can keep calm though, and try a few of the suggestions in this post then hopefully you’ll find the magic words that work best to calm your child down.  The other thing to remember is to trust your instincts.  You know them best, you know if they need to be left alone or if they need you to hold them.

With your help and understanding they can start to learn how to handle anger and all the other big emotions that they might be feeling.

 

What do you find works best for you and your child when they’re angry?

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you

If you’re anything like me then chances are you quite often feel nervous when you meet new people.

I’m better with it than I used to be, but I do still worry that I’ll say the wrong thing, or that the whole exchange will just feel really awkward.

Over the years though I have learnt that if I can try and relax and smile then that tends to make the other person feel more relaxed too.  Even if we’re kind of faking it, if we can come across as confident and comfortable then that tends to make meeting new people easier.

There are some other little psychological tricks you can use as well that can help these interactions.

Here’s an interesting little body language trick you can use to help people feel more at ease with you, even if it’s the first time you’ve met.

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you (1)

 

When you first greet them, give them a little eyebrow-flash.

You know that little thing you do with your eyebrows when you see someone you know across the room?  That really quick raise of the eyebrows, that’s sometimes accompanied with a little head bob.

This is something we all do when we see someone we know, and we tend to do it pretty much subconsciously.

It’s a way of communicating to the person that we know each other, and that there is no threat to either of us.  There must be an evolutionary reason why this eyebrow raise has this meaning because all primates do it, not just people.  I’m not sure what that reason is though.  It might be to do with making our eyes seem bigger, which makes apparently makes us seem more submissive and less of a threat.

 

Whatever the reason, this eyebrow-flash is something we all do and when someone does it to us we take it as a sign that we know them and trust them.

 

So you can use this little trick to your advantage.

Next time you meet someone for the first time, give them a little eyebrow raise and then follow it up with a relaxed smile.  Their subconscious mind will read these cues and they’ll feel as if they’ve already built up a good rapport with you.

You might feel a bit odd doing it, but if you’re subtle with it the other person won’t even consciously notice it, but it will make them feel more at ease with you.

Give it a try next time you meet someone new.  Just don’t go over the top and end up Hermione Grangering at people or they might not feel quite so comfortable chatting to you!

 

Try this little trick to get children to do what you ask

Try this little trick to get your children to do what you ask

If you feel like it’s always a battle to get your children to do the things you ask them to do then I have something interesting for you to try.

A lot of the time the reason children argue back and refuse to do as they’re asked is because they want to assert some control over the situation.  So the trick is to find ways for them to have some choices and some power, while still ultimately getting them to do what you need them to do.

This little trick in particular can increase the chances of your children doing the thing you’re asking them to do.

Try this little trick to get children to do what you ask

 

The trick is to use what is known as the ‘but you are free’ technique.

Basically this is where you ask your child to do something, then let them know that they’re free to say ‘no’ or do something else.  So if you’d like them to eat the peas on their plate you would say “I’d like you to eat your peas, but you’re free to leave them if you want”

 

It sounds a bit crazy, but just knowing they have the choice to say ‘no’ will make them more likely to actually do what it is you’d like them to do.

This has been proved time and time again in studies.

In fact a review of 42 different psychology studies, involving 22,000 people, suggested that this technique can double the chances of someone saying ‘yes’ and doing what we ask.

 

The theory is that when we phrase things like this, using the ‘but you are free’ technique, our children don’t feel as if their freedom to choose is being threatened.  They feel as if they still have the power to choose what to do, and so they’re less likely to push back on what they’re being asked to do.

 

Try it next time you want your child to tidy up their toys.

Instead of just telling them it’s time to put them away, you say “I would like you to tidy up your toys now, but you’re free to carry on playing”.  You might need to explain a bit about why you’d like them to tidy up now, but chances are they’ll stop playing quite quickly and start tidying up.

 

Now, it might not work every time.  Like with any parenting technique it depends on all sorts of factors.  Like the task you’re asking them to do, the thing you’re asking them to stop doing, right down to the mood they’re in that day.

But it has to be worth a try doesn’t it!

reasons to be generous

3 psychology-backed reasons to be generous

When you think about your children, what traits would you like them to grow up to have?

I would imagine that ‘kind’ and ‘generous’ are quite high up that list.  These are qualities that we hope they’ll have, to make a positive impact on the world around them, to bring some happiness to other people in their lives.

What’s interesting though is that are lots of benefits to the person being generous too.

Here are 3 psychology-backed reasons we should all be generous more often.

3 psychology-backed reasons to be generous

 

Being generous makes us happy

Researchers have spent a lot of time looking into what is known as the ‘paradox of generosity‘.

What they’ve found is that, while it might not seem that it would be the case, being generous and giving our time, money and energy to other people can in turn make us feel happier.

A study at Harvard Business school found that being generous and giving causes our brains to release all sorts of feel-good chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.

It really does seem to be true that doing good makes us feel good, and this is built right into our neurochemistry.  It’s a real innate part of being human.

 

Being generous gives us a health boost

As well as making us feel happier, being generous can also lower our stress and make us healthier.

Researchers have found that when we feel like we’re being tight with our money and time it really stresses us out.  Whereas when we’re more generous our heart rates go down and we feel much calmer.

A study by researchers at Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that being generous can reduce our blood pressure by the same amount as medicine and exercise.

It does more than that though.

Generosity can also help to improve chronic pain management, reduce anxiety and lower the risk of dementia.

Pretty impressive stuff.

 

Being generous can improve our relationships

It makes sense that when our partners are generous towards us we’ll feel happier, loved and more content in the relationship.

But the person who is being generous tends to feel better in the relationship too.

A study was carried out that looked at generosity and its effect on marriage, and the researchers found that when one person was generous, both they and their partner expressed high levels of marital satisfaction.

So if we want to improve our relationships with our partners, and even our children, we can try being more generous with them.  And this doesn’t have to mean buying them things all the time.  It can involve being more generous with our time, our attention, and our affections.

 

One thing to remember with this though, is that it can’t be a one time deal.

To really get all the benefits we need to be generous on a regular, on-going basis.  It needs to become a habit and a way of life.

 

When we’re more generous everyone benefits.

The people who receive our time, money and energy feel good.

We feel good.

And we teach our children a valuable lesson about sharing and generosity.

Be careful with the labels we give our children

Why we need to be careful of the labels we give our children

I had a parent/teacher consultation the other evening, discussing how Rhys is getting on in year 3.

One of the things we talked about was how he sometimes struggles with new pieces of work in class, because he’s not sure if he’ll be able to do them.  He was resistant to try a new piece of maths work recently.  And it was because he didn’t immediately know how to do it.

Once it had been explained to him and he understood what he was meant to be doing he was away.  But there was still this fear initially with him that he would find it too hard.

Which is interesting because he is good at maths.  His brain works in such a way that the order and logic of maths makes sense to him.  He can be quicker than me at times when it comes to doing mental arithmetic questions.

The thing is, I try to be so careful with the way I speak to him about this because I don’t want to just tell him ‘you’re good at maths’.  And this anxiety he’s showing about tackling new areas of maths is exactly why.

Why we need to be careful of the labels we give our children

 

See, the problem with giving a child a label of ‘good at maths’ is that it puts so much pressure on them to always, well, be good at maths.

They start to feel that they should always be able to do any maths problem easily, because they’re ‘good at maths’.  So if they’re faced with a question that they don’t understand, or don’t know how to solve, they feel bad.  They worry about not living up to this label.

 

So what I’m trying to make clear to Rhys is that while he may have a natural ability with maths he still needs to learn about it.  He will still find aspects of it hard.  He will still need to work on it and get things wrong sometimes before finding the right answer.

And that all of that is OK.

 

The impact of labels

The thing with labels though, is that it’s so easy to give them to our children without realising the impact it might have.

 

If your child is quiet at a birthday party, and wants to stay close to you for a bit rather than jumping straight in to the action, it can be so easy to explain to another parent that they’re just shy.

The problem comes when they hear this about themselves a few times it starts to become part of their story of who they are.  And that can take years to change.

They might miss out on so many fun opportunities because they start to believe that they’re too shy to join in.

 

So many children might never try something, or discover a new passion, because it doesn’t fit with the label they’ve been given.

The child who is ‘sporty’ might never realise how much they love painting, because it doesn’t match up with the story they tell about themselves as being someone who is active and rough and tumble.

On the other hand the ‘science-whizz’ may not know that they’re actually also really good at rugby, because their label of being academic tells them that sport isn’t for someone like them.

 

The power of labels

What’s really interesting is the power some labels can have to affect people’s behaviour.

There are some stories on this post about twins that mention the twin who was born first being labelled as a leader, while the second-born twin often gets labelled as being more laid-back.  Now, there is absolutely no reason why the twin who is born first would go on to be leader, the first of the two to try things and so on.  But it does seem that parents often give them this label, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Think about it, if you were told the whole time growing up that you were a leader you most likely would act that way.  You would take the initiative on things, be the one to make the first move and rally other people to follow your lead.  Even if that’s not your nature, you would end up acting that way because that’s the story you’ve been told about who you are.

 

The issue comes when that story, that label, conflicts with who we really are by nature.

And when we end up pigeon-holed by those labels, and it becomes incredibly hard to break away from them and pursue other interests and show different personality traits.

 

Encouraging our children without using labels

Once you start thinking about it it can be quite shocking to realise how much we label our children without really thinking about it.

But I don’t think that we need to watch every little thing we say.  None of us are perfect and we can’t expect to never say things to our children that we don’t mean to say.

 

What we do need to do though is be mindful of the messages we’re sending them on a regular basis.

We need to put the focus on to the effort they put in to their work.  We need to label the behaviour, the actions, the processes, and not the child.

Instead of telling them ‘you’re so good at maths’, we can talk positively about how hard they work to figure out the answers.  We can praise the strategies they use to solve the problems.  This shifts the focus from talents which they might feel they have no control over, to actions that they can work on and use again in the future to tackle different things.

 

If your toddlers hits another child at playgroup, don’t call them naughty or bad, explain to them that the action of hitting isn’t nice.  A child who is told repeatedly that they’re naughty is really likely to keep doing ‘naughty’ things because that’s who they believe they are.

 

If your child is good at football, don’t just tell them they’re a great footballer.  Tell them how great it is that they practice their skills all the time.  Talk to them about how they might have a natural flair for the sport but that it’s OK to still find some skills hard to master.  That with practice and perseverance it’ll get easier.

 

As parents it can really feel like we’re all just a bit doomed at times.  That no matter what we do we have the potential to screw up our children.  And I think we could drive ourselves crazy, worrying about how we word things every time we talk to our children.

So I think it’s important not to be down on ourselves too much about the times we don’t phrase things quite right.  We’re all just doing our best here, figuring it all out as we go along.

The key for me I think is just to try and make sure that the overall message my children hear is that they are so much more than just one trait, one talent, one label.

 

What are your thoughts on this?  Were you labelled as a child?  Do you think it had an impact on how you acted growing up, or the choices you made?

Get creative to get your children to cooperate with you

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

I think it’s pretty safe to say that every parent out there has battled with their children at some point to cooperate and do what they’re asked.

It might be that you want them to get their shoes on so you can leave the house.  Or brush their teeth before bed.  Or tidy up the toys that they’ve spread all over the living room.

Whatever the particular task is, when your child isn’t in the mood to do it it can be really hard to get them to cooperate.

There is something you can try though that will help make it more likely that they will cooperate with you.

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

 

If you can make the activity fun, and more like a game, there’s a far better chance your child will cooperate with you on it.

 

Lets say you have a toddler who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.

You could try to explain how important it is that they do it.  That the tooth fairy will be sad if they don’t look after their teeth.  You could promise them a trip to the park if they do it.  You could get frustrated and end up shouting and then feel bad.

Or you could get creative.

You could tell them a story about pirates that have stolen some treasure and the only way to help the princess get it back is by brushing their teeth.  Or you could come up with a silly tooth-brushing song that you sing each time, with special dance moves to go along with it.

 

The same thing goes if you want them to tidy up their toys.

Play them a special ‘tidy up time‘ song to make the whole thing more fun.  Or challenge them to see how quickly they can put all their toys back in the basket.  If you can make a game of it, rather than making it a chore, your child will be much more likely to cooperate with you.

 

You can use this technique for all sorts of things that your children might not always cooperate with you on.

  • Sing a fun song or play upbeat music while they get dressed for school in the morning.
  • Make a game of throwing their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
  • Play catch as you practice times tables.
  • Tell them a story or act out scenes from their favourite film to keep them walking home from the shops.  We live up a hill and Nerys used to pretend to be Elsa running up the mountain singing ‘let it go’ to make it back to the house without complaining.
  • Challenge them to get their shoes and coat on before a timer runs out.

 

Whatever it is that you want your child to cooperate with, try to get creative and use your imagination to bring your child into a world of make-believe and play.

I’m not saying they’ll always go along with it.  But by making these tasks more fun there’s a much higher chance that they will cooperate.  And while you might not always be in the mood for singing and playing and being silly, going down that route is pretty much always going to be better than nagging and getting frustrated.

The games don’t need to be complicated, and your stories can be completely nonsensical.  It really doesn’t matter.  As long as your child is having fun and distracted from the reality of the boring task you’re asking them to do you’ll be on to a winner.