From July 29, 2009
Sometimes we forget just how important our influence is on our children. Below are four tips to think about as you go about your day. It will help guide you in how you approach your children, and help you to encourage them to be the best they can be through positive guidance and acceptance.
When children approach you in the morning or after school, greet them with eye contact, a friendly, warm face, and a welcoming voice.
Sometimes we’re busy getting dinner ready, we’re distracted by our own day-to-day moods, or sometimes we’re holding onto a previous, negative situation. Start each day, and each welcome, on a positive, fresh note.
Keep discussions with other adults about a difficult situation, a problem with a child, or a personal struggle clearly out of earshot of children.
Sometimes we need to vent, however, when a child hears you talking with a stern look on your face, he might assume you are discussing the most recent problem you and that child might have just experienced. It is important to problem-solve child-related situations with your partner or support system out of earshot of the children. In addition, children need us to model that we don’t gossip.
Every child has positive attributes or behaviors that we need to notice, even more than the negative ones.
A while ago, I heard a story about researchers who were observing the mating and migration habits of zebras. They would paint a spot on the rump of a zebra. In a few weeks, they would return to the area, only to find the zebra was gone. After setting up video tracking devices, they found that the spotted zebra became the target of lions because it stood out from the pack. Don’t put a “spot on the zebra” by constantly shouting out negative commands to your misbehaving child. Redirect in positive ways, privately deal with conflicts, and work to balance the positive to negative comments to be at least 3 to 1. If another child is on-task, and one is off-task, comment positively about the child on-task rather than calling out the one off-task. Chances are, the off-task child will get on task to receive your attention!
We encourage children to ask for help if they need it; know when you need to get help and where to get it!
Sometimes, we think if we can’t handle it ourselves, it will reflect badly on how we view ourselves, or make us doubt ourselves as parents. Find adults in your life to help follow up with a problem where you need support. Brainstorming difficult situations with supportive adults often leads to wonderful solutions. You are not alone!