A Four-Year Old’s Intro to Framing

What a birthday faux pas can teach you about framing the world

Photo by Joyce Adams on Unsplash

And then my partner came home from her parents place, where she had begun preparations to make a triceratops cake for the big day, and duly told me that it was indeed, only Friday.

Many facepalms ensued. How could I have gotten a day ahead? The answer to that question being somewhat understandable and not overly relevant to the situation, the next question became, How was I going to fix this??

An unbirthday pancake

It is instinctual to try to avoid hurt or upset, and to simultaneously protect ourselves from being the target of anger or disappointment, by framing things in a positive light where possible.

As our children’s brains develop neural circuitry in the early years of life, we overwhelmingly want those experiences to be stable and positive. Silver linings make for happier memories.

Social science research has consistently shown that when facts or science is provided that challenges our worldview, we don’t change our worldview, we reject the facts. Such is the power of framing.

Which brings us to our current situation that we are living in today, in which many of the narratives that we hold about the world, built through millions of individual instances of applying certain frames, are taking us down a path where social inequality is accelerating, and we are consuming natural ecosystems on this planet as if we had another one to move to. (Note I took care not to mention “natural resources”. That’s a frame in itself, which suggests that the interconnected parts of a complex natural system can be reduced to individual resources, there to be used by humans).

  • If you’re looking to communicate about coronavirus, New Zealand based organisation The Workshop has a fantastic set of resources to help you frame COVID-19 in a helpful way.
  • If you’re interested in upskilling in framing in more general sense, The Workshop also runs introductory workshops to values-based messaging and framing.
  • To understand the power of framing in the political realm, George Lakoff’s classic “Don’t Think of an Elephant” is short read that delivers the basics.

Storytelling | Narrative | Systems Change | Spoken Word | Currently writing a book on storytelling, narrative & systems change | www.alinasiegfried.com/book

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store