For those of you who are parents, we know it can be an especially rocky road as you try to work through the grieving process yourself while parenting your child (or children) on your own. 

I read an interesting article, “More Teaching, Less Threatening Can Lead to Greater Influence,” in the Deseret News last week that had some very helpful ideas that could be of assistance.

In the article, Joseph Grenny (who goes by the moniker of “The Behavioral Science Guy”) stated that, if we feel pretty sure that a child we are hoping to influence is being “obstinate, lazy, selfish or impulsive,” we would do well to take a second look at the situation.

He tells of watching an exasperated grandmother waiting in a long line with her fidgety grandchild, asking the child, “Are you trying to make me mad?”

Mr. Grenny stated that in the stressful situation, the grandmother felt sure the child had “malicious motives.”

He says that social scientists have a name for that “knee-jerk diagnosis”: “fundamental attribution error” or FAE.

Here’s an assignment for you: Just for two days, watch your interactions with the children in your life. Is there any sign of FAE? Do you ever judge a child’s actions harshly and later find out they were meaning no harm?

Take note of every situation in which you might be diagnosing that child’s motives in error. Then, in my next post, I’ll share what Mr. Grenny suggests we do, so we can have greater influence in the life of that child.