Parents changing the focus from negative to positive can make a world of difference.
Let’s face it, our society functions on negativity and threats; kids don’t study — they fail tests, adults get involved in an accident – their insurance goes up. If you think about it, even counting to three to get a child to obey is giving a threat. One, two, three and then what? Does the child lose a privilege or something worse?
What is the first thing you think when you see blue lights flashing behind your car? Is the officer someone you look forward to meeting?
• Oh no, how fast was I going?
• How much is this going to cost me?
• Is my registration up to date?
• Did the officer see me do a rolling stop back there?
• This is going to ruin my day.
• I don’t think this officer likes me.
If the officer focuses on the positive instead of the negative your traffic stop may go like this:
• I like how you put your chewing gum wrapper in your purse instead of out the window.
• You ignored your cell phone instead of answering back there, beautiful!
• I am so happy you didn’t get upset when the teenager took the parking space meant for you.
• You slowed down to let the blue car merge into heavy traffic, thank you.
• You were very patient a mile back stuck behind the tractor, our farmers appreciate that.
Think how wonderful you and the officer might feel after the exchange. I know I would feel much better if law enforcement officers were in a positive frame of mind occasionally rather than only focusing on: moving violations, speeding tickets, unsafe lane changes or broken taillights.
Looking from a parent and child’s point of view can be helpful. Focusing on positive messages is not difficult or expensive and can change a child’s outlook and attitude for the better. At every opportunity possible, give children positive, genuine feedback. Make sure it is authentic because children have built-in crap detectors and can spot a new parenting technique a mile away. (VOE)
• Tolerating your younger sibling without retaliation shows you have valuable leadership skills.
• I like the way you made the bed, the corners are very nicely done.
• Helping your sibling shows genuine kindness.
• Your complete telephone messages are very helpful.
• Making room for me to walk safely was thoughtful of you.
• The way you clean the sink after brushing your teeth is admirable and appreciated.
• Answering your cell phone when I call you shows respect and maturity.
• Reading to your cousins builds important family connections.
• Donating your well-read books helps the charity and our community; that is very generous of you.
• Putting recyclables in the appropriate container helps conserve resources and we all benefit.
Will this fix all your parenting issues? No, but it can create a pleasant environment of fairness and acceptance. Look and listen with your child’s eyes and ears; would you rather welcome you parent’s presence or sneak out the back door in dread of the oncoming: did you do this, why are the, who said, where are my…
Thinking about Chelsey and Katie when their father pulled into the driveway makes me very sad. They would scatter like a flock of birds as soon as the cat appeared. As soon as the door opened he would begin barking orders.
• “Have you finished your homework?”
• “Have you picked up the dog’s poops?”
• “Don’t you have studying to do?”
• “What’s for supper?”
• “Did we get any mail?”
Chelsey and Katie’s father has undiagnosed Asperger’s and it affects everyone around him but we try to work at staying positive. Life is better when the mood is much more positive and upbeat. Wouldn’t you say so?
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her at her contact page.