From Powerful to Influential by Donna Hammontree
Most of us can remember being influenced through a caring relationship by another person, someone who went from powerful to influential: a teacher who saw a particular strength, a school counselor who nudged effort, or a care-giver who nurtured us during emotional upset. We can also most likely remember interacting with a powerful person, one who dictated behavior and delivered negative consequences for non-compliance. Go from powerful to influential! The powerful person possibly got the demanded results but most likely did not get the loyalty, openness, motivation and personal growth that the influential person inspired. From powerful to influential is the role any of can play if we recognize the implications and choose the influential path. We are only as influential as our relationship with a child allows us to be. Being influential does not mean the adult gives the child the reins to live with no structure so that classrooms are unruly, restaurants are filled with screaming children, and play therapists allow participants to break playroom toys. Being influential means providing the structure for the relationship to unfold in a safe, respectful and fun environment. Psychologist Carl Rogers developed person-centered psychotherapy. Rogers believed that “unconditional positive regard” allows a person to maximize one’s full potential. The adult takes an interest in the child, acknowledges strengths, values the child regardless of choices, sees the child’s possibility, and accepts the child’s direction of growth. The adult speaks to the child with respectful words and tone and makes the time to listen emphatically, which leads to having influence. Childswork/Childplay provides products to help. With these tools and Rogers’ guidance to be “real,” fully present in the moment with the child, and understanding and accepting of thoughts and feelings, adults can have influence and inspire children to grow and develop to their full potential. Tips:
- Sit down with the child on his or her level.
- Participate in a fun and playful activity that the child likes and possibly chooses.
- Actively listen and validate thoughts and feelings that the child communicates even if the adult does not think the conversation is productive.
- Let the child direct the path or use a therapeutic game to facilitate work and play.
- Trust the child, the activity, and person-centered practices to lead to a full relationship.
- Suspending evaluation and judgment, support the child in self-expression.