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HELPING CHILDREN CHANGE SERIES: It's Not About Willpower. What Science Tells Us About Forming and Maintaining New Habits in Children Presented by: Dr.

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Presentation on theme: "HELPING CHILDREN CHANGE SERIES: It's Not About Willpower. What Science Tells Us About Forming and Maintaining New Habits in Children Presented by: Dr."— Presentation transcript:

1 HELPING CHILDREN CHANGE SERIES: It's Not About Willpower. What Science Tells Us About Forming and Maintaining New Habits in Children Presented by: Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman Website –; Email - Scarsdale Library February 5, 2014

2 A Little Bit About Me BeforeAfter

3 People and Books that Serve as Inspiration

4 Goals of the Talk Discuss the latest research from the field of cognitive behavioral psychology and behavioral economics as it pertains to helping children change. Help you to apply this knowledge to implementing change in the life of your child.

5 Change Is Hard hs hs

6 It All Starts with a Positive Relationship and a Focus on the Positive When working with children you need to establish a positive relationship. Need to start with areas of success or “bright spots”. Identify where change has already occurred and the exceptions to the problematic behavior. Need empathy and giving credit.

7 There Needs to Be an Agreement on the Goal(s) Helping a child change is different than when you want to change. If the child is not ready to change, need to start there. You need to identify where the child is in the change cycle.

8 Cycle of Change

9 Developmental Considerations Children are “works-in-progress” Children may not be ready to change (pre- contemplative). Frontal lobe is not fully formed. This affects children’s emotional control, impulsivity, and ability to think about long term consequences. Children think differently (e.g., black and white, less flexible).

10 Change Is Hard Because We Are of 2 Minds that Are in a Tug of War We’re fundamentally ambivalent about change; our hearts and minds often disagree. There is a tug of war between our rational and emotional brain. Borrowing a metaphor from Jonathon Haidt, the Heath Brothers in SWITCH bring these three points together by calling the heart an Elephant, the conscious mind the Rider, and the environment the Path. YeTwI0

11 To Make Lasting Change: You Need to Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path Direct the Rider Rational and logical side, in tune with the long-term. Can help to steer the elephant, but the rider is small relative to the elephant it sits atop of. You can direct the rider by finding areas of success and making goals attainable. Motivate the Elephant Emotional and instinctive side. Not all bad. The elephant is the one that ultimately gets thing done. It's the energy and drive of the elephant that will dictate most outcomes. To change the elephant you need to find that feeling, shrink the change, tie something positive to the change, and make it a habit.

12 Shaping the Path: Setting Yourself Up For Success The beginning is by far the hardest time. Avoid triggers. Pre-commit. Makes it difficult to reverse your preferences. Write down the steps to achieving your behavior change (goal setting and self monitoring). Change one behavior at a time. Make it easy to be good and hard to be bad. Shrink the change. Break down the change so it no longer spooks the elephant. 5 minute rescue. Make it public and get social support (rallying the herd).

13 It’s Not About Willpower: Make it a Habit (shaping the path and engaging the elephant) BAD NEWS 1.Our brains are lazy. 2.Willpower is a limited resource. 3. Glucose/sugar refuels willpower (ugh). 4. We tend to be short-term as opposed to long-term hedonists. GOOD NEWs 1. You can build willpower. 2. Since willpower is limited – need to make into a habit so willpower is not used. 3. Develop beliefs that will inspire you, focusing on long term goals as opposed to the immediate gratification. RpiDWeRN4UA

14 Cognitive Therapy (beliefs): Albert Ellis, Carol Dweck and Judith Beck

15 It’s Not the Situation, It’s the Belief: Basics Principles of REBT. Albert Ellis

16 Changing a Habit is Not Enough: Need to Change the Belief SABATOGING BELIEFS Demandingness – SHOULDS/MUSTS Awfulizing – It Is Terrible! Low Frustration Tolerance – I Can’t Stand It! Global Rating of Self/Others - Self Worth Tied to 1 Behavior or Action. Self-Downing HELPFUL BELIEFS Preferences Living in the Gray Realizing That They Can Stand It Not Judging Themselves Self Acceptance, Acknowledging the Situation

17 Carol Dweck – Fixed vs. a Growth Mindset Mindsets are beliefs. People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens. They have a certain amount of brains and talent and nothing can change that. People in this mindset worry about their traits and how adequate they are. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through effort. Praise the process (effort) not the product. You should praise children for qualities they can control, like effort. Those praised for their innate brainpower might develop the sense that hard work isn’t necessary.

18 Judith Beck’ s Sabotaging Thoughts Sabotaging Thoughts Stay away from- “what the heck phenomena”. “Your future self, is no better than your current self.” Stay away from thinking your are doing “good”. Helpful Thoughts Stand firm. No wavering. Remind yourself of the whole story, not just the beginning. Seek to be consistent.

19 Encourage Mindfulness Meditation Want to build your resistance muscles and weaken your giving in muscles. Encourages long-tem thinking and self-control. Meditation trains the mind to focus on the here and now and avoid distractions. Mindfulness training allows people to realize that a thought or emotion is not their only reality, that they have the ability to let the emotion or thought just pass by.

20 Response Card: Advantage Card A response card is a tool that helps you change your mindset and overcome sabotaging thoughts. Read the card everyday and when you are struggling. By reading everyday you make this into a habit. Make your own Advantage Card for your behavior as mom or dad. Your child can make his/her advantage card about new behavior change. I’ll be a good role model. My son will listen to me more. We can actually problem solve about where is the jacket. I won’t be a “bad cop” so my son will actually focus on his behavior and not my out of control behavior. My Advantage Card for Not Losing My Mind When My Son Loses His Jacket

21 Putting It All Together 1. What is one behavior that you feel would be helpful for your child to change? 2.Is there an agreement on this behavior change between you and your child? 3.Where is your child in terms of changing (pre- contemplative, contemplative, preparation, action)? 4.What developmental issues may be getting in your child’s way to change? 5. Are you directing the rider (rational), motivating the elephant (emotional), and shaping the path?

22 Putting It All Together cont… 6.What beliefs are sabotaging your child? 7.What beliefs can inspire your child? 8.How can you make this change into a habit rather than using willpower? 9.How can you be proactive? 10. Can you include mindfulness? 11. Did you make an advantage card? 12. Do you have that positive relationship with your child because if you don’t, forget steps 1-11?

23 Fighting to Kick a Habit - Mike Tyson “No, in order to kick it, I had to replace the cravings for drugs or alcohol with a craving to be a better person.” “I’ve learned that being sober is more than just avoiding drugs or alcohol. It’s a lifestyle focused on making moral choices and elevating the things that make life worth living to the forefront. But when I am focused on doing good and being good, and practice the day-to-day mechanics of a sober, healthy life, I don’t get those urges to do bad things to myself. “ “Even with your conscience nagging at you, it’s extremely difficult to develop a sober and moral consciousness without a good support system.“ “Strangely, times of success are most dangerous for me”. “When I relapsed in the past, I would keep getting high until I was in a car accident or got arrested. But this time, after drinking for two or three days, I came back. I didn’t wait for an intervention. I just got right back on the wagon.”

24 Come Hear Workshops 2 and 3 at the Scarsdale Library WORKSHOP 2- March 7 th at 1130 - “NO MORE WORRYING” Workshop focuses on helping children to worry less, be more present oriented, and less future oriented). WORKSHOP 3- April 4th at 12 - “MY CHILD IS NOT WORRIED ENOUGH” Workshop focuses on helping children be more concerned, responsible, and future oriented. Goal is to have rider and elephant in balance and working together.

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