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January 13, 2013

Experimental Change

What it is

A different approach to making change that tests incremental effects before anything permanent gets settled.

Why it's Important

Part 1

Experimentation is a method of testing something with the goal of discovery.

The something we test?  YOU

The discovery goal?  Positive Energy 

Why it's Important

Part 2

We all like to try before we buy, right?  The trial period reduces the risk in making choices.  The same holds true for making changes. 

Experimental change builds in a trial period.

The Problem

Pressure to commit can make it difficult for a kid to update plans based on discovery.  

No one can predict the future, especially a kid whose experience is limited and whose mind and body is changing faster than you can keep her in shoes.

The Tip

ZAP! a small irritation

Step 1:

Make an Observation

From your child's regular morning routine, ask him to pick a small and frequent irritation.

Examples from our family:

  • Can't find clean socks.
  • Hard to make bed neatly

Step 2:

Ask Questions

“What is it that bothers you about it?

"What other problems does it create for you?"

"What are some of the "not you" factors that make this an irritation?" 

Not You Factor:  Objective things that aren't directly related to your child, such as having only one bathroom shared by siblings.

Step 3:

Design Experiment

You're testing your child's indirect response to a direct change he'll make to his environment.  Find something small and indirect to test.

Indirect Response:  Your child's energy level and emotions.

Direct Change:  Things he'll do differently.

Experiment Examples:  Bed Making

  • Make bed after school vs. morning
  • Pay brother to make bed
  • Move bed away from wall
  • Put blanket in a drawer

Step 4: 

Evaluate Results

Include information from everything; let your child's whole life contribute to the overall evaluation of the results.

The positive and the not-so-positive results.

Step 5:

Give it Meaning

Understanding your child's energy and emotions is finding the meaning of the experiment.

I'll share with you the result from my son's experiment:

Moving the bed made it easier to make.  I felt good because I knew it would make you happier and I liked being able to walk back into my room after school and feel good all over again.

Draw conclusions or make a new observation and start the process all over again.


 Best Fit

By experimenting with change, your child has a chance to learn about herself so that she bases decisions on accurate and current information.


As an experimenter, results aren't about personal integrity or character. Results are connected to the experiment not the experimenter.


Encouraging flexibility in your child's plans for change makes it easier for him to ask you for guidance when results are confusing.

Promise Kept

We promise to teach our kids how to make good decisions.  By framing the process of change as a series of experiments to be learned from, you're teaching your kids how to understand themselves so that they can do just that:  Make good decisions.  Well Done!


Peacemaker Coach Tip of the Week - Experimental Change


Related Articles:  Obstacles to HappinessPresidential Status Quo Bashing, Bribing Kids - The Currency of Power 

Related Tip of the Week:  The Right New Year's Resolution, Recognize Perfection, Decode a Feeling,


Check out life coach training and certification at the Center for Coaching Mastery at Westchester Community College 

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