A Lesson from Starbucks

For everyone who has braved peak hours at Starbucks, you know it’s an amazing place to learn about behavior!

There are a lot of options.

You can select your size, get it hot or iced, choose one of the many milky additions, and even thrown in one of the endless varieties of special sauces.

But you can describe your favorite drink down to the letter, right?

What if we defined behavior for our small beings the way we order drinks at Starbucks?

One thing I constantly notice in my private practice is that vague language confuses small beings. You might say “be good,” but what exactly does that mean? Small beings have no idea and then you get upset that they're not meeting your expectations.

Here’s how to win at this game: Provide all the details so they can get it right!

For “be good” you may want to ask your small being to say “please” and “thank you,” to keep their hands on their own body, to turn their voices off when a grown up is talking, and to take action when given a direction. With all that information it’s clear how to be good!

When you think of saying “remember to play nicely,” this would translate to asking a small being to keep their hands on their own body, to take turns, to talk with their friends about what they are playing before picking a game, and to use their words to tell people what they want. Now playing nice is much easier!

Yes, this approach requires many more words. The bigger challenge is that it forces us, as big beings, to define things and get clear.

Starbucks forces us to get clear by asking questions -- “What size did you want that iced soy chia with a shot to be?” – but our small beings don’t inquire.

We need to provide the clarity for our small beings if we want them to meet our behavioral expectations. (Tweet) It requires clarity on our part and sharing our thoughts in age-appropriate language. Yes, it can be a challenge.

But just like Starbucks, once you learn how to order, you can do it much more quickly. Take the time to determine what it means to you to be kind or to play nice. Then, when it’s time to give that direction to your small being you will be ready.

Insight Into Action

Parents: What is one common misunderstanding between you and your small being? How can shift your language to be clearer?

Teachers: What is one thing that your students never truly understand what to do? Write in how you may shift this language.


Feedback? Thoughts? Comments? Leave 'um below or email me at: Info@BehaviorAndBeyond.net.

With a little help we can all grow. If a special person in your life can use this information, then please forward this blog.

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