Can You Persuade Parents to Make Changes?
Sometimes you might worry about your parents, especially when you think they’re not getting enough activity, social interaction, or eating healthy foods. You want to help, but it seems like your opinion doesn’t even matter and you can’t persuade your parent to make changes. Sound familiar?
So, can you persuade Mom or Dad to form healthier habits? Maybe, if you learn a few persuasion techniques. For starters, if you want someone to listen to you, don’t lecture and try a simple conversation instead.
Habits Are Difficult to Change
“Habit” is defined in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.” A healthy habit might be a morning walk. Demanding a change of behavior from a parent – or anyone else – won’t do any good! It’s not easy to let go of a familiar patterned behavior!
It’s Not Easy to Change
So, don’t you have some unhealthy habits? Have you ever successfully made your own lifestyle changes? Yes? Then, congrats! It’s not easy to change habits in our own lives, so trying to get someone else to change is even more of a challenge.
Be Compassionate When Asking For Change
Your parents are most likely aware of their necessary changes, so don’t nag them or irritate the situation by creating anger and resentment. It will only exasperate them and make them less willing to cooperate.
Be compassionate when asking for change. Consider their feelings and lovingly tell them that you understand their challenges and feelings.
Consider the Why
Investigate the situation a bit more and ask questions to uncover whether their lack of initiative is a reaction to recent stress. Is there a health-related issue you didn’t know about? Has there been increased isolation, creating depression and apathy? Maybe your parent doesn’t think anyone cares if they have dirty dishes. Maybe they just don’t know why they should even make an effort. Is it time for professional elderly care?
Healthy New Habits Can Replace the Old
When your parent is ready to change, then what? Teri Goetz, a writer for Psychology Today, affirms that you can’t just will yourself to change. That’s not enough. Assist your parents with a solid plan, then arm them with success tools and potential healthy behaviors that can replace the old unwanted ones.
Take smoking for an example. If and when your parent decides to quit smoking, a substituted activity, like a phone call or a walk around the block might be enough to boost willpower. Can you help them make their plan for change?
Social Connections are Powerful
Social connections are powerful, and they can help or deter efforts to change. If your parent socializes with others who smoke, it will be harder for them to quit. However, if you will offer loving elderly care by spending additional time with them for a while, you will build their sense of belonging and success. Be on their team while they create lifestyle changes. When they know you’re in their corner, it’s so much easier for them. You’ll inspire a greater optimism in your parent, as well.
Changing a habit can be hard, but we all feel better with a sense of control over our own lives.
- Let Your Parent Accept Help Graciously
- Juggling Your Parents’ Independence and Safety
- How to Tackle Difficult Conversations Around Care
Changing behaviors can be tricky, but those who enjoy work in elderly care suggest this commonsense tidbit: Simplify.
B.J. Fogg , creator of the Tiny Habits® Program, says there are only three things that create long-term behavior changes:
- An epiphany.
- A change in the environment.
- Baby steps.
As he explains, a change in environment and baby steps are your best choices. You can change your environment and you can take baby steps. B.J. defines these things in greater detail in his program to help people accomplish small and large goals. Helping your parents attain a goal will create a sense of accomplishment for you and your parents, as well.
Who Should Start the Conversation?
Hmmm, are you sure you’re the best person to start the difficult conversation with your parents? Or, is there an ally who could help you with their elderly care? Maybe this person could bring up the subject instead of you. In the very least, you must make a plan, selecting the best time of day and a location with privacy when initiating the conversation.
Carolyn Rosenblatt, an expert in aging says that when you are assisting in parents’ elderly care, the situation might be eased by allowing the blame to fall on the adult child, rather than the parents. You’re likely to get results in your mother’s eating habits by saying something like this…
“Mom, I know I’m sometimes a pain and a worry wart, but I’m just getting so concerned about whether there’s enough quality food in the house. Would you allow me to just ask someone to stop by for a visit, run errands or do some light housekeeping for you once in a while so I can sleep better? I just love you. I’d probably sleep better if we did this.”
Muster up some patience with your elderly parents. Offer encouragement to them in making changes. Be compassionate and try a spirit of teamwork. Keep in mind that a sense of humor can help, too!