Almost a year ago, I attended a parenting class. Basically, the takeaway was to actually apply consequences to your children’s actions instead of just talking about them. (Which is a big old DUH—and an awful lot of work.) But the thing that’s really made a difference in our home was the teacher’s other point.
Last week, I came across the statistics backing this up again and I thought I’d share.
They say that children get a lot more negative messages than positive ones. Some of these are understandably necessary: no, you can’t have candy three meals a day; no, you can’t touch the hot stove; no, you can’t run into traffic. But can you imagine if you were told “no” as often as a four-year-old does?
(Yes, yes I can. “No, you can’t do what you want right now. No, everything anyone has ever told you won’t work to help this child. No, you can’t get the amount of rest that is physically necessary to your mental health and wellbeing.”)
Those feelings of negativity lead to frustration. Kids (and moms!) need more positive messages—research suggests as many as four to five positive messages per negative message. The positive messages can also serve as positive reinforcement to get your kids to do what you want (woot!).
So I’ve been working on giving my kids lots of positive reinforcement and messages for almost a year. I can’t say it’s been an amazing transformation and now they’re perfect angels—but I know that it’s making a difference to my kids.
I know because the simplest little things that I do for my kids sometimes prompt some familiar-sounding responses:
“Mom! You made me a sanwich! I never been so happy!”
“Mom! I so p’oud o’ you for getting my paper!”
But most importantly, I get to hear things like this:
“Dankoo for zip me up!”
“Thanks for picking that up!”
“Oh, thank you!”
And that’s a positive message every Mom could use.
What nice things do you recognize in your kids’ mouths?
Photo by Michele Truex