Leadership principles in parenting. Or "How to avert a tantrum 101"

I decided to read Quiet Leadership by David Rock again. I last read it over five years ago, and I figure if you find a really great mind-changing book, you should probably read it more than once. 

Rock's basic theory is that it's a lot faster and more efficient all around if you help people to think through stuff for themselves rather than just tell them what to do, and he bases his ideas on recent research into brains and how people learn.

One thing that jumped out at me last night was Rock's thoughts about how to change habits. Rather than constantly go back to thinking about the problem, you need to focus on the solution. And rather than just trying to 'stop doing' whatever it is you want to stop doing, it's better to actually put new connections in your brain and start something else instead.

If you imagine trying to change the course of a river, you don't just put in a barrier so that the water can't flow anymore. Instead you create a new channel and divert the water. As the water flows into the diversion, it does the work and creates its own new course. 

Rock uses these ideas to help businesses do better, but I figure I can use them to help my children learn to think, and that's what I did this morning.

My six year old decided that he wanted to play the Kinect this morning. He had an idea in his head and believe me, when he wants to do something he is extremely focused and very determined to get his way. He has always had a very low threshold for frustration and he’s been an expert at very loud tantrums his whole life.  I didn't want him to play the Kinect this morning. We have had discussions about 'one session of Kinect per day' and today we had already said that he could play it in the afternoon after school.

As he stood in front of me pounding his little fists on the kitchen bench, demanding to play the Kinect, with me steadfastly saying 'no, not now - later' it occurred to me that I was really just helping him focus on his problem. I was putting a barrier into a river to try to get it to stop flowing. What I needed to do was divert the flow and help him build new connections in his brain.

"You could focus on what else you could do this morning," I said. (See? Solutions based thinking! David Rock would be proud!) "What do you think your options are?" He still couldn't get past the Kinect, so I threw a few options at him. After rejecting all of mine, he then did his own thinking: "I know. We could play Sherlock," he said. And we both went upstairs and had a very happy game together.  

Crisis averted. Thinking achieved. New brain connections made. Thank you David Rock and Quiet Leadership.