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How to Change Behavior in 3 Steps

Communication is the key to any successful relationship but sometimes sharing your thoughts may feel uncomfortable. You wonder how your child or partner will receive the things you're sharing with them. One of the ways to share things effectively is to invite the other person into a partnership. When you show you want to resolve an issue with them instead of dictating to or nagging at them, your partner or child may be more receptive. As a parenting and stepfamily coach, I have found this technique to be a favorite of my clients because is helps them express their throughs and feelings with placing blame or making the other person feel they have to be on the defensive. There are 3 parts to the Stoplight Strategy, just as there are 3 parts to the typical traffic light. Just think of it in terms of stopping, changing and encouraging behaviors similarly to how we stop, begin change and encourage forward motion. Here's how it works:

Red Light: This is something you tell your partner or child you need them to stop doing because you find yourself having a negative reaction. I actually teach parents to teach their kids this technique to reduce sibling squabbles:

The formula: I feel _________ when you do __________. I need you to _______ so I can ________.

For example: I feel overwhelmed when you start complaining the minute I get in the door. I need you to wait until I've changed out of my work clothes and had a few minutes to shift from work to home life so I can really hear you and we can resolve the issue together. For siblings: I feel irritated when you wear my new clothes without asking. I work hard to earn spending money to buy myself a few nice things. I need you to clear it with me first so I can let you know what I'm willing to share and what I want to save for special occasions. Yellow Light: This piece is used when you want to work on changing/improving something with your partner or child. The issue is something you both own a piece of responsibility in. The Formula: I noticed we seem to be struggling with _____________. I'd like for us to work on improving it together. Can we sit down (time frame) and talk about this? I'd love to hear your thoughts. (The last sentence shows respect for the other person, their thoughts and feelings.) For example: I noticed we've been arguing a lot about chores. I know you don't like my nagging any more than I like doing it. Can we talk tonight after dinner about this? I want to hear what you feel is the struggle and for us to come to an agreement that works for both of us. Thanks. Green Light: Nothing reinforces a person's choices more and encourages a repeat performance than gratitude! Use the green light as often as possible, while doing it with authenticity and genuine, heartfelt expressions. The Formula: I wanted to thank you for _____________. It mad me feel _________ when ___________. I would like to ask that you continue to _____________ because I found it ________________. Example: I wanted to thank you for helping me with the bedtime routine tonight. It made me feel like we were truly a partnership (and appreciated) when you did that. It really helped me feel less exhausted and stressed out! Could you continue to do that on the nights you don't have late work meetings? I love when we do the kid things together. Feel free to modify things a bit so they feel less formulaic and more like a conversation. I wanted you to understand the process, then apply it in a positive manner in your own relationships. I hope you found this strategy helpful! For more tips and techniques, don't forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter at: Follow me on social media: @daretoparent on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn Photo credit: Katie E on Pexels

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