I was at a local event the other day that was filled with young children and their parents. The children were getting faces painted, collecting Easter eggs, and taking photos with the Easter bunny. As you can imagine, it was a bit… chaotic. Parents chasing children, shouting phrases like:
“Don’t run off ahead of me!”
“Stop bugging your sister.”
“Don’t eat any more candy!”
You get the idea. And it made me think, how many times a day do you think a child is told NOT to do something? What if I told you not to watch this video? Would you do it?
I’m going to go ahead and assume you watched. As you saw, Brown uses the power of negative suggestion to get children to open a box. How? Simple. By telling them NOT to open the box. The more they tried not to open the box, the more difficult it was to resist.
Brown shares that curiosity gets the better of us, and we wonder what will happen if we do the thing we’re trying not to do.
Makes me wonder, then, are students getting in trouble in school simply because we continuously tell them not to do something… are we, unwittingly, using the power of negative suggestion to convince students to act out counter to our desires? Are we fueling their curiosity with our constant messages of:
“Don’t run in the halls,”
“Don’t use swear words,”
and “Don’t access inappropriate content on the internet”?
The negative rules are everywhere. They are not only said by adults on campus, but they are published on classroom posters, listed on Internet Acceptable Use Policies, and sent home in First Day of School packets.
So how about I try a little negative suggestion for you:
DON’T USE POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS WITH STUDENTS!
Did it work? Have you torn down the posters? Rewritten the Internet Acceptable Use Policy? What are you waiting for?
By the way: Derren Brown is an English mentalist. I wasn’t sure what a mentalist was, so I looked it up. And honestly, I’m still not sure, but it seems to involve an ability to subliminally manipulate people through psychological suggestion. If you liked his video, check out his YouTube channel – I should warn you though… he uses negative suggestion with adults that are a bit darker than the video I shared here.
Love it, and I agree. We should frame suggestions in a positive light. That’s how my class rules are too.
ALSO, when you wrote “Don’t use swear words” I (reading too fast) read “Don’t use swords.” And I wondered what was going on at your site.
Swords are only allowed on Friday’s that have a partial eclipse 😉