Couple chatting

“Stroking” is something that one of our Parents Anonymous facilitator mentioned often to members. It is such a simple thing, really, but something we may not think of too often. Stroking is a powerful tool that can potentially turn around moods and attitudes between people and does not require touching in spite of the label.

What is stroking?

Stroking is bringing attention to something specific that a person has done or created that you genuinely appreciate. When you stroke someone you bring attention the act or creation and tell the person responsible exactly what it is that you like about it. Stroking may even replace some nagging reminders. Stroking is a gentle nudge to the ego of the other person for whatever reason.

What is NOT stroking?

Stroking is NOT a ‘Thank You’ that should be a regular comment of gratitude and appreciation.

Stroking is NOT flattery; flattery is empty, meaningless praise, usually to get something in return.

Stroking is NOT a command but does encourage more of a particular behavior or action.

Example: A child that usually had messy handwriting actually took time to write a book report that was neat and clearly written.

Mom: “I notice you took special care on this book report; I like the punctuation and the spacing of your letters. It shows me that your handwriting is maturing.”

The child’s ego is stroked because their efforts were noticed and appreciated. As a result, the child may make a point to work on improving their future handwriting.

Example: The husband who usually left clothes and shoes strewn about put things neatly away.

Wife: “Honey, I noticed you put your shoes in the shoe rack and dirty clothes in the hamper. I appreciate that; it really helps me when I don’t have to search for laundry.”

The husband is surprised that his wife even noticed; he really never knew it helped her so much to put dirty clothes in the hamper.

Example: Parent to spouse who peppers their speech with swears.

Parent: “You haven’t been swearing today; I enjoy our time together more when you don’t swear.”

The spouse has been trying to stop using foul language and is happy someone noticed and appreciates the difference.

Example: Divorcing parents’ incessant needling can find common ground.

1st Parent: “I like how you neatly packed all of our child’s belongings for visitation; our child benefits when we don’t argue.”

The 2nd Parent appreciates that the 1st Parent even noticed and sees their child does look happier.

Stroking is a tool we all own that does not cost a penny and can help things go smoother… and I think that is something we can all use.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Nathan Colquhoun Under Flicker/CC License Original .

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 blog here on her contact page.

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