Focus on the positives

I’ll admit it, I’m not perfect. Not even close. But I know I do some things right. And this is one of them.

Prior to having kids, my husband and I had discussions on how we’d parent – how we’d apply time outs, how we’d address issues, about speaking with a single voice, not fighting in front of the kids – and the list goes on and on. We’re not always completely consistent, but we do a pretty good job tag teaming.

However, there is one cardinal rule that we do not break. And that’s focusing on the positive and not the negatives. It’s pretty simple and yet so effective.

When one of the kids has a bad day at school, it is promptly addressed with a quick talk by whoever picks them up, then it’s not mentioned again. We don’t bring it home and mull over it all night. Instead, we enjoy our time together, get the kids to bed, and start the day fresh the next day. On the opposite side, when the kids have a successful day at school, we talk about it all night. We praise in the car, we mention it to the other one (in front of the kid when we get home), and the word “proud” comes out of our mouth all night. My older son gets praises for having a “dry day” with no accidents, for being a good line leader, for getting a prize during musical chairs. My youngest gets claps and cheers for picking up her toys, for helping to throw garbage out, and for dancing and making us all laugh.

Don’t get me wrong. We are pretty hard on the kids and expect them to be well-behaved. We don’t sweep issues under the rug – we address them when it happens with either a stern voice, a time out, or a removal of a priviledge. All effective means of discipline. But then – we move on.

I think it’s easy to forget the power of praise. Think about the last time someone gave you special thanks for doing your job or holding a door open. Think about the last time you were celebrated for something you achieved. Now translate the pride and joy you feel into the mind and heart of a three-year old, or a 20 month old. As much as our kids test our patience and sanity, they also attempt to make us happy and proud everyday. 

My husband told me a few days ago that this one single concept was the best parenting tip I’d ever given him. I have to admit, I was pretty proud. I guess you could say it’s our daily mantra.


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