What if a parent could catch their kid doing something right?
Try these two ideas to become more positive in your parenting.
I have a loud voice. Even when I’m talking normally, paint peels off the walls and small animals burrow into the ground. Imagine being my kid.
Once upon a time, we are in the mall parking lot and I’m trying to get the kids buckled into their car seats while answering a billion questions, refereeing severe sibling conflicts, and “inviting co-operation” from my pre-schoolers who I am trying to imprison. In my view, I’m basically parenting my brains out, and then, boom…my wife says, “Kent, you’re voice is really loud.”
I explained, “I’m not mad. I’m just trying to get the kids buckled in.” And then I see her eyes furtively scanning the parking lot, worried that other parents might be calling the authorities. I lower my voice a few decibels and continue the quest for total click-age.
Why is it so hard for me to be a positive parent?
Sometimes it seems like there is no end to trying to affect change in our kids. We feel the responsibility of shaping and guiding our children. Our default mindset is often noticing what’s wrong with our kids and trying to fix it, or getting them to do what we want them to do by – what’s that word? Oh, yeah. Nagging.
Of course, a big part of parenting is protecting, correcting, guiding, reminding, mediating, warning, enforcing and explaining. I’d like to challenge you as a parent to add some more positivity to your family relationships by intentionally catching your kids doing something right and praising them for it.
Here are two ways you can try to infuse of this kind of positivity into your family this week and “catch your kids doing something right”.
Pounce With Immediate And Specific Praise
Once you decide to look for opportunities to praise your kids, you can get better at seeing them. When you do see your child doing something right, take 20 seconds – right then if you can – to stop what you two are doing. Get their attention and, with a smile, tell them exactly what they did or what quality they showed at that moment. You can say a few sentences more, but don’t try to drag it on. The kid doesn’t have to respond. Just pounce and praise [with enthusiasm in your voice and eyes if you can]!
Long-Term Reflection With a Planned Meeting
Another way you can catch your kids doing something right is to reflect on your child’s behaviour in the past week and write down some specific positive things you have noticed. Consider how you could effectively praise your kid and write down some phrases, qualities and examples. Think about the character traits you want to reinforce, where you have seen this quality displayed, and write that down too. Then set a time when you can sit with your kid for several minutes and have a “meeting.” You could say, “I want to tell you about something I’ve noticed lately.” Then tell them what you have noticed and thank them for what they are doing right.
In both the immediate and more reflective praise, remember to comment on qualities and character, not just performance and winning! It’s also preferable to resist the urge to add a few “buts, corrections or commands” at the end of the conversation. I think it would make a big difference in our parenting if we pounced and planned some praise!
How will you catch your kids this week? When can you reflect on your child’s positive patterns of character and behaviour? When will you meet? What will you say to encourage your kids? Let me know how it goes! kent.martens@eefc.ca