Being positive is a key to success. It works at your job, in your marriage and certainly with raising your children. No one needs to eliminate the negative but you need to overwhelm it with far more positives.
The more positive you are with your child, the better everyone will get along. If your child feels that you are on her side instead of on her case, she will feel good about herself and probably about you, too. You both end up feeling better if you have a child who is feeling positive and happy.
If your child feels you love and respect her, she can handle some ups and downs with a great deal of ease. In fact, she is likely to make what otherwise could become a big issue into a small negative blip. The problem with her not feeling the love and respect is that it can last through the entire day or for multiple days. In fact, the more you say “no,” the more your child may jump from one outrageously negative act to the next one.
When you are feeling overwhelmed with negative behavior from her, keep a log of the positive versus negative in your head. Remember you are striving for 5:1 on the positive side. If you are feeling unhappy with your child, do something about your own behavior. This may be a time you need to have extra amounts of hugs and laughter to offset the negatives that have been accumulating.
It is easy to underestimate the importance of hugs and laughter. This is true with children but also with spouses. It is difficult to be angry when either a hug or a laugh has interrupted the conflict. Hugging makes us feel good and helps correct negative situations. Just knowing how important hugs are can help you turn your relationship more toward the positive.
There are other rules of parenting that are important. The first one can be difficult to remember. You don’t have to be perfect to be a parent.
Another rule of parenting to remember is that children don’t just learn about you and the world when you do things right. They learn a great deal or at least as much from studying what happens when you do things wrong.
What is crucial when you do things wrong as a parent is to try to fix the situation. Pick up your crying baby. Hold your terrified toddler tight. Hug and apologize to your preschooler for being late. These are acts called repairing. That is just what they do.
You certainly can mess up your child by being a really awful parent. But you can’t mess them up by just being imperfect. Children are amazingly forgiving.
So take advantage of what we have learned from science and from the positives of experiencing a big hug. Give your child and your spouse a big hug on a regular basis. You will each feel better for having had something so positive.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach current First Teacher Executive Director Nicole Brewer, email email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.