Do you prefer to be told what to do, or sold on the wisdom of doing something?
Imagine that your doctor tells you “lose 20 lbs by the end of next year…” and then walks out the of room. How much commitment would you feel?
On the other hand, imagine that your doctor shows you three new studies that are very convincing showing, given your family history and DNA testing, that losing 20 lbs is very likely to add 5+ years to your life and cut your chances of heart failure by 50 – 70%. Imagine the doctor taking time to explain the new information clearly, giving you the studies, and answering all of your questions, not dashing out the door to meet the next patient.
I think all of us agree that being sold — understand the “why” — makes a positive outcome much more likely.
So why do parents often “tell” their kids what to do, instead of selling them on the wisdom and logic (and potential consequences) of a given path or choice?
I believe that if you parent like you might not be around next year, you would take the time to always explain the “why” behind every directive and sell the benefits to your kid. This should be confused with everything becoming the kid’s personal choice — that is a quick train to nowhere good as kids don’t have the life’s experience to always make the wise decision — but investing your time to “sell” will yield many of the long-term outcomes and smart decision-making that you hope for.