Sunday, June 6, 2010

Parenting Tip #42 Positive vs Negative

+ - Which one is your outlook on life? There are so many ways to think of positive and negative. Let’s think about the positive and negative words we say and how our children may react to them.

My sister, a 6th grade school teacher, makes it a habit to say 3 positive things to a student before she says a negative one. A mother listening to her daughter’s piano lesson noticed that the piano teacher said 5 positive things to her daughter before she ever mentioned a negative one. It might be eye opening to record our conversations at home and see if they are mostly positive or negative.

But how do you discipline your children or point out things they are doing wrong? How do you get them to obey and listen to you? We know that our children want our attention. The problem is, they will settle for negative attention if they can’t get the positive attention. And since we give them so much negative attention, they’re getting what they want so they don’t need to hold out until they get the positive attention.

Here’s some scenarios that may happen at your house. Your child, age 4, gets dressed by himself and comes out looking like a mismatched hobo. What do you say? Well, if you don’t have to go anywhere that day, just compliment him on getting dressed all by himself. If you do have to go somewhere important and need him to look “decent” you might say, “Josh, you got dressed all by yourself! Way to go! I love it when you follow directions. Guess what? We are going to _______ and I need you to wear a different shirt with those shorts. How about putting on your blue shirt while we sing the ABC song?”

Or this scenario: your daughter and son finished clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, but the table wasn’t washed, the floor wasn’t swept or the counters washed. What do you say? “Thanks for doing your chores. I was able to _____while you did them. But I need you to go back and wipe the table and counters and sweep the floor. Thanks guys!”

A daughter-in-law told me one day she was looking for the positive but sure couldn’t find much. Finally she told her daughter “thanks for that hug!” even though she was supposed to be in her own room getting her pjs on. Now her daughter was more willing to go get dressed after being validated for something good she had done. Then she told her older son, “You were helping Tac get dressed, how thoughtful of you,” as they jumped on the couches whooping and hollering in their pajamas. But again, they were much more willing to follow the next directions they were given when their mom saw that they did do something right.

Try it today. Say 3 positive things to your children before saying a negative. You'll start noticing the positive and become happier with your children. Or then again, you may become a mute!

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