Three Minute Parenting Playbook - Anchor Points
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Encourage And Support Without Bribing
Hey, Heidi Rogers here with today's Three Minute Parenting Playbook. One of the things that I often encourage parents to do if they have something difficult that they're trying to help their child get through - a doctor's appointment, school - you want to set what's called an anchor point.

Something at the end of it that their brain can sort of hold on to and anchor to, to feel more positive or, "okay, I can get through this."

Sometimes with adults we might say, "If I have a presentation, the anchor point is that feeling I'm going to feel when it's done and that it's over," or "I'm afraid of the flight I'm about to take. The anchor point is walking into my house and getting a hug for my partner. Oh, that's when I feel okay, I can get through this flight, because I anchor to that thing that's coming."

Some parents will often ask me, "Well, how do I know an anchor point versus a bribe? Like, how do I know that I'm not giving them a prize or a bribe and using that as anchor point?" Because, one: context. You're not going to offer them something and use the language: "If you get through school today, then we'll get ice cream. If you go to the doctor today, and you don't cry during your shots, then you'll get a lollipop."

We don't ever want to connect how our kids respond or how they have to perform to earn something. Especially food, we don't want our kids to ever think that they have to hustle for food or that they earn food. We don't want to be teaching our kids that.

What we do want to do though, is anchor points. It doesn't necessarily have to be a prize or a reward, it's just something to look forward to. For my kids, when we're having a difficult drop off time at school, I'll say, "After school, we can go to a playground and won't that be fun." So there's no connection to 'if you do this,' or 'when you ___, then we can' none of that. It's just "You know what's going to be great after schools, we get to go to the park with Maddie! That's going to be so much fun we haven't seen her in ages." And focusing on that so that my daughter then has that to ground to, to think about and kind of keep her spirits up as she's trying to get through the slug and grind of the difficult day.

So you can do things like that: hanging out with a friend or we can color together when we get home. The key is how it's packaged. We really don't ever want it to be food if possible. I mean, you can say we're going to go get ice cream. But it's more around 'that we're going to be spending time together.' Do you know what I mean?

I'm not saying that you can never say, "Oh, yeah, let's go get food." I'm not saying that. It's just you don't want to ever connect it to 'if you do this, if you stop fighting, if you stop crying, if you have a good attitude about this, or if you do anything that then you earn this.' That's what we don't want to be teaching. It's more so that this is just something fun to look forward to.

I hope that makes sense. There's a resource that goes with this. If you want to click the link below you can download that now.