Online qual with kids

This is without a doubt the best experience I’ve ever had as a Market Researcher working with kids. Yes perhaps I say that after every project but truly there are so many advantages of doing qual with kids online. Here are just a few of the many

1. You can target a much wider age range of kids than you’d ever want in one focus group

2. By managing the way they can post on the topic, they have to give their views without seeing those of the other group members

3. You can simultaneously run groups in different regions, different countries and check out with one group some of the things emerging in the other

4. Kids are in their own space, they feel safe and comfortable and can answer the day’s questions in their own time

5. It’s easy for them to post a photo or a video of something you might need such as they using or playing with a toy  or game

6. By holding an extended group you can build rapport and get to know how children relate to the brand

7. You can drop in a Survey Monkey questionnaire and collect some valuable background information about the category

8. Mums can be asked questions too

9. They don’t need to be paid as much as traditional groups because there’s little inconvenience to Mum and no travel or time costs, viewing studios etc

10. It’s easy to get them to do small tasks during the course of the research and report back such as watch a TV show, check out a website, download an app

Having said all that, the amount of data you get is huge which is great from the clients’ point of view but you do have to charge for your time. Imagine, in a normal one hour focus group with say 6 kids the maximum talk time per child is 10 minutes maximum. In reality it’s more like 5 minutes once you’ve deducted time for the intro and warm up, rules an regs and wrapping up. With an extended focus group online say over a week of half term each child is likely to give you 10 minutes per day! That is 10 x 5 days x 6-10 kids per group. I’m sure you can see how this will end up costing the same as your focus group project.

Next time you have a kids research project give me a call and we can look at it as a potential online group….or not. There are times when the traditional focus group will be a better fit to your brief.


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Mad Cat Women – a short story

Helena put the phone down with a huge smile and did a little jig around the kitchen.

‘We have the perfect cat for you,’ the lady had said. She could hardly wait to call her sister. She would do it right now.

‘Rachel, thank you so much for suggesting I call the Oriental Cat rescue place,’ she blurted out.

She wasn’t usually so self-centred but she just could not stop herself.

‘So did they have any suitable cats?’ asked Rachel, almost guessing the answer hearing the joy in her sister’s voice.

‘Yes they did. Imagine, they have a lovely cat, two years old, a spotty like Pushkin…….the woman is having a baby and they don’t think they can have a cat, can you believe it?’

‘What about leaving it all day though, dear?’

‘They’d been out at work all day so he’s used to being left and he’s not a kitten so he should be fine.’


‘I expect he already has a name then, what’s he called?’

‘Oh it’s awful, Rachel, they called it Cefa… as in C for Cat. Can you imagine? I will have to find a better name than that but something that sounds quite similar………… I know, maybe Caesar, yes Caesar, that’s a good name for him. What do you think?’

‘That’s a fine name for a spotty Oriental. When can I see him, dear?’

‘I’m picking him up in two weeks time. How about Sunday the 30th?

‘See you then, dear.’

Helena went into her living room and sat in her favourite armchair where she could see all her cat photos. She looked at them lovingly and leaned forward to share her good news with them.

‘Can you believe it, I’m going to have another cat, now you mustn’t be jealous; you know I love you all.’

She reached out and held each of the photos of her precious cats. First Pushkin with such a lovely nature, her teenage boys had adored him. Their friends used to think him very ‘cool’. He used to greet them at the door and rub up against them. She stroked him through the frame and he seemed to purr back at her.


Then Hector. ‘Hmm not so great’, she reproved gently. Hector was fine with her but he had been so loud. Helena loves the way that Siamese cats talk to you but Hector well, he just didn’t stop! He talked all the time, even on the litter tray and when he was eating, with his mouth full. ‘Yes Frank was pleased to see the back of you wasn’t he?’ she smiled as she remembered her first husband’s dislike of Hector. ‘Yes, you were certainly quite a character.’

Here is Periwinkle, surely her favourite cat, but no, she admonished I must not have favourites. She closed her eyes and listened to the silence. How quiet it was without a cat in the house. How lonely with only photos to talk to now the children all had their own busy lives. She hadn’t dare dream of owning a cat again now that she had had to return to full time work after her divorce. It was so strange.  Helena had grown up with cats, she enjoyed talking to the photos of them in her lounge as she sat and watched TV in the evening. But it wasn’t the same. Something was missing in her life without a cat to come home to, to stroke and share her thoughts with. Her cats marked out periods in her life, mostly happy, some not so. Whatever she was feeling, her cats would comfort her. She missed the warmth of a warm purring body on her lap, the touch of soft fur and the nuzzling of a little head into the crook of her arm.


And now at last she would have a cat. She waited impatiently for his arrival and happily bought toys for him to play with each time she passed the pet shop. But Caesar like Pushkin proved to be a great escapologist.

He would howl all night if she left him in the kitchen and created absolute havoc. One morning she came downstairs to find that he had not only pulled off all her notices from the pinboard behind the door but he had knocked every single drawing pin out, including the little group she had pinned in the corner, for spares.

On another occasion he had pulled down a pine framed mirror. Luckily the glass didn’t break but the frame smashed to pieces. When she tried having him in the bedroom with her at night he would walk around the bedroom flicking things off the table and chest of drawers and then sit on the pillow with his little face in front of hers and pat her on the cheek repeatedly until she would pay him some attention.

How could she explain that she just wanted to keep him safe? She stroked his ears fondly,

‘Now Caesar I know you don’t like it sweetheart but I really have to keep you inside for a while longer. I don’t want you to get confused and try and find your way back to your old home and I don’t want you to get locked in someone’s garage, how would I find you?’


They had endless battles with collars. She would put one on him as he sat oh so meekly. Then once out of sight and the collar would be off. They looked each other in the eye, it was a stand off. Sometimes when she did that she had the distinct feeling that there was ‘someone in there’. Her sister had it too, the first time she met him. Helena hadn’t said anything about him being a bit strange but Rachel came right out and said it.

‘Helena dear………… have you ever thought …………that there is ………somebody in there?’ she whispered.

Helena nodded conspiratorially avoiding his eyes. Could he understand them?

‘Do you think it’s …..Mum?’ Rachel ventured sotto voce. She nodded again, laughing.

They had been allies as daughters in the ever running battles of wills with their mother who was, always right. Dorcas demanded and usually got respect and attention; she didn’t consider anyone else’s opinion worth listening to and expected to be at the centre of whatever was going on.

Caesar was not scared or nervous of anyone or anything. Despite Helena’s worries about him meeting her boisterous grandchildren for the first time, he met them imperiously at the door, bid them hello with a lofty ‘miaouw’ and then rubbed up against them before throwing himself into their games and toys with enthusiasm.

When she did let him out he would disappear for days at a time then come back battle scarred and sick.

‘Ugh! What is that you’re bringing up? It looks like prawns. You shouldn’t even be eating prawns you know. That nice vet told us you had to have a restricted diet so that your skin will clear up. We need to get rid of those horrid abscesses.’ She started to clear it up. ‘That looks like chicken breast. Don’t you think I’d give you that if I could? Who has been feeding you and more important, tell me who are you fighting?’

One day he came back with his collar still on but it had a note written on it in pen. ‘Please ring this number.’

‘Your cat has been fighting my cat,’ the lady on the other end of the phone said in a very accusatory manner, imagining erroneously that Helena had some control over Caesar.

‘Oh so that’s who he has been fighting.’

‘We thought he was a stray.’

‘Have you been feeding him?’

‘Oh yes, just some shrimps and chicken breasts, they are his favourites, you know.’

Helena felt like pointing out that he threw them up again on her carpet.

‘But he’s on a restricted diet. Please don’t encourage him into the house with food.’

‘Well we thought he was a stray and my grandson loves playing with him.’

‘Well he does have a collar you know.’

‘Well sometimes. But he’s obviously happy here.’

‘But he’s fighting with your cat.’

Helena thought she should explain that he had come to her quite recently and may not be fully settled in especially as she was out at work all day. This was clearly a mistake.

‘Well no wonder he comes here. He must be lonely. You shouldn’t really have a cat if you’re out at work all day.’

Helena was just about to explain the circumstances under which she had decided she could have Caesar and then thought better of it. Why should she share these personal details with this ….. this … cat thief?

Anyway the woman was still talking.

‘I don’t want him here fighting my cat.’

‘And I don’t want him there either so please don’t feed him or let him into the house.’

The situation improved for a short while and Helena and Caesar continued to build their relationship although it was not long before he started to disappear for days again.


Helena was really upset. She started to dread coming home fearing the worst and then when he did appear, feeling so angry that he was with ‘another woman’. She confided in her sister.

‘Don’t you remember how Mum did exactly the same thing?’ Rachel reminded her on one occasion.

‘Oh yes!’ Helena went wide eyed when she remembered how similar the circumstances had been.

‘Remember just after Sapphire died she adopted that other cat that looked just like her. We told her not to and she kept saying she wasn’t feeding it then you found that box of dried cat food in the cupboard at Christmas one year?’

‘Yes and she said oh that doesn’t count it’s just a bit of dried food.’

‘And you found she’d bought a bowl for it as well!’

‘And do you remember she even had the cheek to phone the owner and tell her to get it deflea-ed because she’d had some bites?’

‘Oh yes, how dreadful! The woman asked her not to feed it because it was her daughter’s cat and her daughter was really upset about it.’

‘She didn’t stop though did she? She just ignored us all. She was her usual unreasonable self and wouldn’t accept she was doing anything wrong.’


‘But Helena dear, I read in the paper that it’s actually illegal. It’s called enticement. It’s illegal to entice someone else’s animal into your home.’

‘Well it certainly should be. Gosh it’s like history repeating itself isn’t it?’

They said goodbye and Helena looked again at Caesar. ‘Are you in there Mummy?’ she asked.

After a while the disappearing acts just became too much for Helena to bear and she decided to pay this lady a visit. She looked up the name and address in her telephone directory and marched round there to try to reason with her. After all, she kept reminding herself, “it is my cat and I’d like to have him with me”.

The ‘other woman’ wasn’t at all how Helena had imagined. She was plump and haughty as if she’d been someone ………once. Her hair was tightly curled like her lips and her arms as she crossed them in what Helena decided later was a very aggressive pose, rather like her mother’s in fact.

‘Are you letting my cat in at night?’ she asked.

‘Oh yes, he loves to sleep on our bed.’

Helena couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Why don’t you shut your cat flap at night?’

‘I’m not going to change my living arrangements to suit you, you know.’


‘But what you’re doing is illegal, it’s called enticement. You’re feeding my cat and he is on a restricted diet. He shouldn’t have this food. You’re enticing him away from me.’

‘Well he obviously prefers me to you.’ She went to shut the door in her face.

Helena was incensed. Caesar was her cat and she wanted him with her when she was at home.

‘It is illegal, I could report you to the Police.’ she insisted as she stuck her foot in the doorway.

In the background, in the kitchen she could see what must have been the Deli owner husband, shrimp and chicken breast conveyor, sick inducer, slink back into the shadows. What a wimp, thought Helena, just like my Frank. You aren’t even man enough to come and help your wife. For a second, she felt a frison of kinship.

‘And I could report you to the RSPCA. You call yourself a cat lover and you don’t even look after your cat properly. Why do you think he comes here?’

Helena sighed; maybe she should just give up. After all, maybe this woman, rude and unpleasant though she clearly was, could actually have a point.

‘Look, do you want him?’ she offered magnanimously.

‘Certainly not, he doesn’t get on with my cat.’


Helena just turned on her heel and left, thwarted. What could she do, there seemed to be no easy solution? This woman just did not make sense. She wanted him but she didn’t want him. She was enticing, yes enticing him with food he wasn’t allowed and then said she didn’t want him.

She went home and sat on her sofa, put her head in her hands and wept. ‘Oh Pushkin, what shall I do? Hector how I miss your talking the house is so quiet without you.’ She looked up at her photo of Periwinkle her first cat, how people had stopped and stared when she took her out on a lead. Orientals were quite new then, people hadn’t seen them around as much as they have nowadays.

The phone rang and interrupted her reverie.

‘Oh Rachel it’s you.’

‘Whatever’s the matter, dear?’

Helena told her a shorthand version and waited. There was a pause.

‘Have you considered sharing him with this woman?’ she asked.

‘What?! …….Not on your life. I was going to take him back to the Rescue Centre. I just can’t take any more worrying when he’s not here.’


‘Hang on a moment Helena dear. She wants him when her grandson’s over and you want him after work and at weekends, why don’t you offer to take him round for her grandson to play with when she asks, if in return she will not let him in and not feed him?’

‘You don’t know what she’s like!’ Helena reposted

‘She’s a mad cat woman like you… and me.’ Rachel said soothingly.

Helena came off the phone and poured herself a glass of wine. She thought about what her mother had done and she thought about her poor cat Caesar who had been sent from one home to another and been left all alone all day with no-one to play with.

She got out a pen and some paper and started to write a letter…..










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Loneliness of the long distance author!

I’m not sure writers like to own up to loneliness so I’m probably breaking a code of silence on this subject but I feel it should be aired. You see writers depicted on their own, apparently happy with their own thoughts, inspired possibly, blocked possibly, certainly busy tapping away at their PC in a world of their own. Yes, it is a wolrd of their own. This world, if you’re a fiction writer is probably peopled by their characters and that can be a happy place but also a bewildering place as you grapple with what they should be doing or saying in the situation you’ve put them in or where they have found themselves depending on whether you are a structured or ‘go with the flow’ sort of writer. A non-fiction writer on the other hand has no such people to keep him or her company. We have facts and ideas that need to come out. We want to tell you stuff. Ideally we’d like to engage with you and make you want to know more, read more and possibly buy more of our books because you like our style. But it’s ever such a lonely place to be.



I can go all day without talking to anyone apart from someone in a call centre who wants to ask ‘myself’ or ‘yourself’ something and I find myself explaining (as if it would make any difference) that the reflexive is inappropriate in the context and that really ‘you’ or ‘me’ would suffice. It isn’t any more respectful to use the reflexive form. I find myself wandering into Facebook every time it pings just to make a connection with the world outside and feel a part of something other than me and my book.

I train NLP Practitioners in working with kids using NLP and of course I have clients but these conversations, fun though they are are one dimensional because no-one is actually at all interested in me, my thoughts and ideas or just hanging out with me for fun. That’s what I get from Facebook. I am also increasingly doing more Kids Market Research which enables me to spend time playing with toys with kids and finding out what they think but again it’s all in one direction. Never once has a child asked me what I think about the book, game, toy or TV programme.

It’s amazing to me in this technological age that it is possible to be lonely and to crave the company of like minded souls – actually they don’t even need to be like minded. I’m not so fussy, anyone will do! I play tennis and go to the gym and enjoy those brief conversations and interacting with sweaty people but it’s short lived as exercise takes over and the huffing and puffing starts.

So why have I decided to come clean now? Well hubbie was made redundant and has decided to spend the summer at home and then start looking for consultancy work in the autumn. Suddenly I have a chum around. It has been wonderful just to hear a fellow human being about, have a tea made for me and company over lunch. It has really opened my eyes to how lonely I was even though I hadn’t acknowledged it. I don’t know if other writers feel like me or perhaps they’re sensible and meet up with friends occasionally. I am extraordinarily focused and do take on an awful lot so I have masses to do each day which precludes meeting up and having long lunches and having fun during the working day. I suppose I don’t trust myself to get back to work afterwards. Anyway, I feel better for having shared with you and it would be so nice to hear from other people about how they feel about working from home on their own. Maybe you have some good ideas for how to overcome this loneliness.



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Brand Licensing -Foreword by Professor Malcolm McDonald

I picked up this book again today to pack and send to a reader and found myself turning to the foreword of which I am super proud. I read Professor Malcolm McDonald’s Marketing books as a student at both Brighton and Kingston University and when I decided to write this book he was the first person I though of to ask for a foreword. How delighted and proud I was when he agreed and I drove off to drop a copy of the manuscript to him at his home. When I popped back there a week or so later to pick it up imagine my delight to find such a lovely hand written note from him.

This extremely well written book fills a longstanding gap in the literature of Marketing, which is surprising considering the brand licensing industry is worth around $150 billion.

Although the title and topic may sound somewhat esoteric and a little dry, after a lifetime as a practitioner and teacher of Marketing, I found it difficult to put down once I started reading it – rare indeed for the majority of Marketing books, including my own.

My own first job as a Marketing and Sales Director was in a franchise business – Canada Dry – and I wish I had known then what I know now, having read this book.

In the commercial world, successful brands create shareholder value by creating competitive advantage. A great brand continues to shine bright no matter how dark and depressing the economic environment and brings pleasure to people. Licensing successful brands enables this financial success and consumer pleasure to be spread widely around the world. But such licensing takes many forms and can be highly complex. This book steers us through what could be a potential minefield. It is full of excellent practical advice but importantly is also a cracking good read.

Professor Malcolm McDonald MA (Oxon) MSc PhD D.Litt

Emeritus Professor

Cranfield School of Management

Chairman Brand Finance plc


I really enjoyed writing this book and interviewing such illustrious names in the licensing business as Andrew Carley and Darran Garnham, Andrew Lane and Kelvyn Gardner. I hope you find what they have to say both interesting and actionable in your own businesses. If you’d like to buy an author signed copy you can buy one from me at for £20 (RRP £24.99) including postage. It’s available from Amazon too of course. It’s also available in Chinese.


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Whose opinion matters most to you?

We seem to be in age where other people’s opinions almost garner more importance than our own as we seek out Facebook Likes, Follows on Twitter and other Social Media and huge list of contacts on our mobile phone. As soon as there is a decision to make we can be sharing it with friends and ‘googling’ options. This is called being externally referenced and it is an option; the other being internally referenced. They both lie on a continuum and it is for you to decide where you want to operate depending on the situation or decision in hand.

 “Team leaders can motivate the people in their teams especially well when they understand the referencing that each member of the team uses. It becomes a great deal easier to create meaningful feelings for the members of a team when you know what matters to them.” David Ferrers

“The best style is to have an internal reference with an external check. That is, we use our own values, beliefs, visions; outcomes etc. as our stabilizing gyroscope and regularly look outside of ourselves to see how it fits with the world of others and the state of knowledge. We then feel centered in ourselves, in our values, standards, beliefs, understandings, visions, goals etc. and then fully open and responsive to information and perceptions outside of ourselves.” Steve Jabba

“How sensitive you are to other people’s opinions and feedback determines how much you are affected by the achievement culture. “ Joseph O’Connor

“Have you ever noticed a person who, when making a suggestion in a meeting, glances in the direction of someone from whom they are seeking approval? It may not be the person to whom they are making the suggestion but it is the person whose feedback and acknowledgment they rely on for feedback on how they are doing.” Sue Knight

“To identify whether your children are internal or external ask them a question such as ,”At school, how do you know you’ve written a good essay?” An internal child may say, “I just know or it feels right.” An external child may say, “My teacher needs to give me a good mark, say nice things or smile at me.”  Roger Ellerton

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Being internally referenced means that we go inside ourselves to interpret how we feel, what we want to do, how to respond or decide. An externally referenced person would instead, ask someone else for advice if they were auditory, notice other people’s reactions if they were visual and sense their reactions if they were kinaesthetic. This is rather a sliding scale rather than being bipolar. In some situations we might look to others for a response whereas in some situations, perhaps when and where we feel more confident, we would rely on our own judgement and decision making ability. If however you find yourself regularly at one end of the scale or the other it might be refreshing to consider being more flexible.

We make decisions based on our interpretation of the situation. As something happens we filter it in various ways. We may delete parts of what happened based on whether we tend to focus on what we see, hear or feel. We also tend to respond according to the language that is used. Perhaps the way something was communicated really annoyed you or the tone sounded offensive or it was spoken so fast you couldn’t quite follow it or so quietly you struggled to hear it.

It also gets distorted when we assume intentions that may not be there, almost mind-reading the situation. Then we might generalize, telling ourselves that this ‘always happens’ or that ‘no-one ever takes any notice of what we say’.  The next filter that comes into play is that we set the event against our values and beliefs about what is important to us, what is right and what is wrong. These come from our upbringing and experiences in life which constantly change but core values tend to remain constant. Around most subjects we have acquired attitudes from reading and discussions which have built a fund of knowledge which we can apply to the event that has occurred. Again attitudes are constantly changing as we meet new people and learn new things and this event is part of the learning process.

Past experiences and memories also play a part in forming our response to this event as we recall what happened in the past and whether you want to repeat the process this time or do something different.

People who are internally referenced go through these processes to interpret events and on the basis of the internal processing they then respond with little regard to the opinions of others. This can result in a rather abrupt, even rude response which might even be hurtful but those who are internally referenced won’t be so concerned about that aspect. When you are externally referenced little processing takes place, instead other people’s opinions are sought through various means such as posting on Social Media, texting, asking immediately ‘what do you think’ or waiting to see what others do and following. Whilst in some situations this latter approach may be workable it doesn’t encourage any independent thought or feeling which means that you may be unprepared for situations when this is required.

This has been taken from Secrets of the NLP Masters. Buy it from my NLP website or get it on Amazon.

Secrets of NLP Masters


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Three great concentration boosting games for kids


Lay out a pack of shuffled cards on the table in a square with neat rows.

Each player then takes it in turn to turn over two cards. If they are the same e.g. two sevens, they keep them and have another turn until the two cards are not the same. Then it is the other person’s go. You can play with as many people as you want.

The idea is to remember what the cards are and where they are so you can make the pairs by memory of their position rather than by chance.

This helps the kinaesthetic child to build their memory and concentration. They can do it on their own as well and time themselves as to how long it takes to get the pack off the table and into matching pairs.

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Kim’s Game

Put out 10 objects on a tray and show your child the tray for one minute. Then cover it up and ask them to write down every object they remember seeing on the tray. You can make this more difficult by asking them to also write down the colour, size and order left to right of the objects.

Being aware of order and position will help them with 11+ skills and it will also build concentration and speed of processing information.


My Aunty Flo

One person starts by saying ‘my Aunty Flo went to market and she bought a….’ The next person continues by repeating what the first person said and adding an item. Then each person repeats the list so far and adds an item. The winner is the last person who remembered the list correctly.

There are loads of games on the Internet and ITunes, both numeracy and literacy games and they have levels so that children get a sense of achievement as they move to more advanced levels.

Once you know whether your child is visual, auditory or kinaesthetic you will know how to motivate them and which areas of the 11+ paper they need most help with.


You can find other ideas for helping your child with learning in my NLP for the 11+ book. Buy it here for £6.99




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Helping your child cope with divorce

There are some changes that we don’t make by choice; they are imposed on us and we have to make adjustments fast and from a sad place. What can make this even harder is the fact that we are responsible for our children who look to us for reassurance at a time when we have none to give. Platitudes come naturally as we seek to set their minds at rest about the changing situation but it can be hard to explain how things will be when maybe we don’t even know ourselves.


All these changes are very hard to take on board for children because the family is the centre of their world so any major change like this will be very unsettling. Unable to express how upset and often angry they are about it they can respond with non verbal behaviour such as bedwetting and eating problems, withdrawal and other manifestations of hurt and overwhelm. This makes a difficult situation for us, even worse as we have them to worry about as well.

Focus on a ‘desirable outcome’ by using a time line with them.


Imagine a line representing time laid out on the floor out in front of you. You are standing at a point representing today. Discuss how you feel and listen to how your child feels. If they are visual ask them what they see, auditory ask them what they hear and kinaesthetic how they feel and what they want to do.

Recognising how terrible you feel now and acknowledging that it does feel bad today rather than pretending all’s well is about living fully in the moment. There could be tears and anger and this is OK.

When you both feel ready, decide on a point on the imaginary line when you will feel better than you feel today. This may be a different point for each of you and that is fine. Each go and stand on the point when you think you will feel happier.

From that point (and notice how it is different for you and your child) talk about how you feel now, what has changed and what difference you are feeling in your emotions and experience. This may be a good opportunity for you both to share your thoughts about what needs to happen. Really associate into this moment in time and show your child how to anchor the moment so that at times when they feel bad they can use the anchor to remind them that things will get better for them.

Now take a step back towards today’s point, just as far as you feel comfortable, not necessarily all the way back. There may be a point along the way where you feel it marks a change. Talk about what that change could be and what you both want to happen.

Then go back to today’s point on the line and talk about what you can do today to start to make the change.

Hopefully you will have found it helpful to experience the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and recognise that things will get better for you and have discussed how that could come about.

Some changes just are so terrible that it can be difficult to ever imagine that there will be some resolution or that you or they will be OK. You can use modelling to help here.

Is there someone you know who has been through something similar to what you’re experiencing now? Ask them about it and explore how they managed to support their family and heal themselves. Those who have been through painful times will understand how you are feeling and will remember the poignant first steps along the road to recovery. No-one else’s situation will be exactly the same as yours but by sharing the pain with others who know what you’re going through, some models of excellence may be picked up that you can apply to you and your family.


Here are several NLP tips that might also help;


  • use ‘towards’ rather than ‘away from’ language with your children. Rather than talk about what you no longer have, focus instead on what you do have and joint goals you have discussed and agreed.
  • Grief sometimes distorts images of the past and of the future. Notice when you use words like ‘never’ and ‘always’, ‘everyone’, ‘better’ and so on. These generalisations and distortions can be taken quite literally by children and aren’t usually a fair reflection of the situation.
  • Use their preferred language, visual, auditory or kinaesthetic to discuss their feelings.
  • Step into their shoes to understand their territory. How they see their new world will be quite different from how you see it.
  • As they steadily make progress towards coping with the changes, use anchors with them to remind themselves at less good times, that there have been some improvements.


However bad things may seem now, if you have a desirable outcome that you agree with your children and tie it down to specifics you all have something to aim for. When you talk through with them what they think would be something to aim for, write down all suggestions and agree which ones will work. Then post it up somewhere so that everyone can see it and work towards it. Younger children may like to draw a picture of their desirable outcome so post that up as well.

We all want our children to have a happy childhood but that frequently is not possible through death, divorce, illness and separation. There are many books available on these themes and it helps for children to read them and know that they are not the only ones suffering. They also provide child models for them so they can learn from those who have been through a similar  experience.

This is taken from ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ published by Hodder Education and available to buy on Amazon or get your signed copy from my website.

Be a happier parent cover



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