There’s no place for snakes on the slope!

January 16, 2017

snakeOn a recent skiing holiday, I had plenty of opportunities to see in action what I train kids and adults to do. Ski instructors are highly skilled in the art of training beginners through to experts in the skills of skiing, but for some, I have observed that they can miss a really vital aspect of effective instruction - the brain!

I witnessed our instructor completely going against how the brain functions most effectively when he berated and shouted at a less competent skier in our group when he kept falling over and getting in a right state about getting down a steep and challenging slope. What happened was that his brain went into the 'snake' mode (otherwise known as the reptilian brain or ‘fight or flight’). Whatever that instructor told him at that point could have been in a completely different language - his poor brain was not in a state to process it. The thinking, rational part was not engaged. The instructor was barking lots of useful instructions and guidance, but they were not going in and the poor chap was just getting more and more frustrated.

What he SHOULD have done with this guy was to get him to calm down first, by talking to him gently and calmly and building his confidence rather than knocking it down. I know from first hand experience that good skiing technique can only come once thinking brain is engaged. There is no place for snakes on the slope!

This is an important lesson to remember for our children too. When we want them to truly listen and take note of what we are saying, it's so important they are in the thinking part of their brains and not the snake. Otherwise we may as well not communicate at all. And added to that, when they don't listen to what we are saying (because they can't), we end up getting even more annoyed and frustrated which in turn just makes everything so much more unproductive and a waste of time. Taking a quick pause and allowing ourselves to calm down, and helping our children to calm down can truly make all the difference in dealing with tricky situations.

Remember – ditch the snake and focus on the thinking brain if you want meaningful and positive interactions!

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This post was written by Beth Parmar