NLP for Parents

NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming has been used in Industry for leadership and management training for many years and is now being adopted by parents all over the world to help them build parenting skills. Surely if it has been successful in business for building confidence, rapport, negotiating skills and conflict resolution then we need it as parents too!

So how does it work?

Neuro is the bit in our head, the self talk, the limiting beliefs such as ‘I can’t….’ and the way we think and feel about what we experience.

Linguistic is what we say, our communication patterns.

Programming is the patterns we repeat regardless of whether or not they serve us well.

What does it offer to us as parents?

From birth our babies mimic us and we them. We make faces at each other, make funny noises and movements with our hands to encourage them to respond and connect with us. As they get older they copy other things we do, mannerisms and expressions.


They learn what your approval looks, sounds and feels like and they want to get it because this gives us both a warm feeling. They naturally match us and this is a learning process. When they can’t do something, they don’t give up, they have another go and eventually they all walk, talk and eat as we do.

We can use this natural process to build our parenting skills because we are the ‘model’ for our children. What they do and say they have seen in us so when they do something we don’t like the question is, how do we do this ourselves? What could we do differently that would show them what behaviour we do want from them?

Children naturally learn from feedback and don’t feel a failure when they fall over as they learn to walk and yet we have teenagers who have no confidence. So what happens between babyhood and teenage years that changes their response to setbacks?

NLP offers us the opportunity to show children by our own behaviour how to overcome setbacks and limiting beliefs, access our strengths and skills and apply them to where we need them and how to get on with people from all walks of life.


How can we use NLP as parents?

NLP has a number of very useful ‘ground rules’ that if we apply ourselves, we will be leading by example. Here are a few of them.

  1. If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you’ve always got – in other words, if you aren’t getting the result you want, do something different.
  2.  You have all the resources you need – whatever skill you need now you have either in the past or in another area of your life, so we need to find it and use it now. If you really don’t believe you have the skill, find someone who does, and copy it.
  3. There is no failure only feedback – setbacks are there to learn from so next time you do something different.
  4. The map is not the territory – how you see the world is unique to you and based on your experiences, values and beliefs. Be curious about other people’s map in order to build rapport and connect with them.
  5. The person with the most flexibility controls the system – this means that if you exercise choice as to how you respond then you are more likely to achieve your desirable outcome. Knowledge of NLP internal representations (Visual Auditory and Kinaesthetic) as well as the personality types enables you to match and connect with the other person and give you the opportunity to influence them.

Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP therapist based in Burnham, Bucks tel.  01628 660618. She is also the author of Teach Yourself: Be a happier parent with NLP and a series of NLP workbooks for the family called Engaging NLP (NLP for Parents, NLP for Children, NLP for Tweens, NLP for Teens, NLP Back to Work, NLP for New Mums, NLP for Teachers). She has also written NLP for the 11+. All her books are available via Amazon or from her website