February has just burst through the door! The thought that we are well into the second month of 2016 creates a response of nodding heads and tut-tuts about how quickly time seems to fly. And yet it seems as if it were only yesterday that January arrived in a shower of confetti-shaded hopes, wishes and resolutions for the new year ahead. For many of us, this is the time of the year that we look at the year gone by and assess what we could have done better or achieved more with ourselves, our children or our family. And so during the beginning of the year, we often create grandiose resolutions during which, with steely resolve, we promise ourselves that we are going to do more or change more. By February all those plans have faltered, as we protest at how difficult it has been. Actually, those plans were more than likely to fail because we are trying to change too much, too quickly without enough resources or without enough time. Perhaps, instinctively, we know that they are going to fail and so we give up before we have even started.
The “One percent Principle” goes a long way in explaining why resolutions or long-term plans often fail. It basically suggests that we often avoid setting major goals because achieving them seems so overwhelming. Sometimes changes we are trying to establish may be too great. Interestingly, the theory continues to support that small, often subtle changes create a momentum that increasingly brings about much larger change. I would say that when it comes to our children this idea makes a lot of sense.
Very often we, working in early years children’s nurseries in Dubai, hear parents saying that they are going to start disciplining their children more, spend more time with them, establish better eating habits or help them achieve better grades. The plans come from a good place but are often too general, broad or too drastic. With children, we cannot start changing established habits all at once. It creates too much insecurity as children do not know what to expect. Yet, if we change small things incrementally and consistently, we stand a better chance of succeeding which in turn will bring about confidence in ourselves and our abilities as parents. If dad arrives at home half an hour earlier to read a story to his child he has basically started and achieved in measure the change planned. Scheduling family dinners together over the weekend and at least once during the week creates the basis for a habit that impacts language, communication and cognitive skills. Half an hour less on the I-pad will mean half an hour more time playing and developing physical skills. Speaking to our children and others using “and “instead of “but” will reinforce that respect and love are not conditional. Small, positive changes that we apply with consistency can have the potential to create a lasting effect.