Languages of Change

Mentors are all involved in a child’s life because they hope to see change. Sometimes however the change that we as mentors want is not the same change that the kids we meet with are committed to.

What can we do to move these kids towards change when they seem uninterested in changing?

As a mentor you can evaluate how interested a child is in changing by the words that they use. Below are five language cues that you can listen for to determine if a child or family member is interested in change. These phases were taken from a training that I attend at River Community Church presented by Dave Mitchell. The training was based on a counseling technique called motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing was developed to help people with alcohol addiction. Currently motivational interviewing is used in a many different health and social science fields.

5 Languages of Change

  1. Does the child want to change?
    Do they say things like, “I really want to stop getting in trouble at school?” If a person doesn’t want to change, then you can’t force them. If you aren’t hearing them say they want to change then don’t try to force them to change you will just be frustrated.
  2. Does the child see a need to change?
    If a child wants to change you can begin to help them see the need to change. You might ask, “You say that you want to change but why do you think you need to change?”
  3. Does the child have a reason to change?
    If a child wants to change and sees the need to change you can help them identify reasons to change. You might ask them a question like, “If you were to change your behavior at school, how would your school day improve?” or “What problems does your bad behavior at school cause?”
  4. Do they believe they have the ability to change?
    I think a mentor plays a crucial role with a child’s belief that they can change. Many adults that are involved with at-risk youth believe that they are destined to act a certain way. These adults believe that change is not possible. And many kids begin to believe this as well. Your job is to help the child believe that they can change. You might ask them, “I think you can change your behavior at school but do you believe that you can?”
  5. Are they ready to commit to necessary steps required to change?
    If the child says, “YES! I can change my behavior,” then you might say, “If we lay out a plan right now to change your school behavior could you commit to it?”

I know that these five languages of change might sound simplistic, but I hope that they will give you a framework from which to talk to the children and people in your life about the change that they want to see.

The notes above were taken from a brief training that we provided at the Youth Horizons Mentor Refresher on January 23, 2012.

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