“Accentuate the positive.” It is really great advice that most parent experts reinforce today. Focus on the good things your kids do. For every challenging behavior your children demonstrate, there are underlying positive traits that you can point out and celebrate. When your child learns to see their positive traits, it can help them learn to self-manage when their behavior is challenging.
For example, if your child struggles with emotional intensity and has frequent meltdowns, you might choose to see them as full of emotion. Chances are, when they feel things that deeply, there are also times when they are deeply loving, compassionate, and caring.
A stubborn child is strong-willed and determined, and can persist in the face of great odds. When we see our kids this way, they begin to see their personality traits as both a challenge AND a strength.
Accentuating the Positive
I once heard a speaker suggest that the ratio of positive feedback to correction or negative reactions should be 3:1.
Seriously, three times more good things than corrections!? For most of us, by 8 a.m., when our kids get out the door, we’ve made more than 20 “corrective statements.” Just to get them out of the house!!! That means we need to say 60 good things to shift the ratio.
I don’t want to stress you out by challenging you to get to 3:1. But, what can you do today to improve the ratio? Make sure to give praise when it is due: “Thank you for shifting gears and getting downstairs when you did. I know it was difficult for you.”
To help, here's a list of 100 phrases you can use to praise your child – (thanks to speechtherapygames.com for sharing the list.)
Beyond Positive Traits: Finding the Fabulous
I recently said to my husband late one night, while we were getting ready for bed, that I'm really proud of our three kids. Not for what they do, but for who they are, for the people they are growing into.
Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely impressed with what they've each accomplished, despite the odds against them. They've persisted through a wide range of life and school challenges, and are each finding success in their own right.
Yup – they're fabulous, we agreed.
And that's when it hit me. The key to their success, and my sanity, has always been to “find the fabulous.” To constantly be on the lookout for what was fabulous about each of them, instead of focusing on all the things that were making me crazy.
Empowering Success with Fabulous
Sure, our kids have challenges. But we cannot let them be defined by them. If anything, we want them to be defined by their strengths, their gifts – by those things that make them feel terrific about themselves. Those strengths will be the sources of their successes. And their successes will breed more success.
“Believing in people before they have proved themselves is the key to motivating people to reach their potential.” John C. Maxwell
Sometimes, when we get tired, or frustrated, or disappointed, or scared, it’s hard to see all the possibilities – either for ourselves or our family. Of course, that’s when we need to see them the most!
The hardest time to “prove” yourself is when you have doubt, when you’re not really sure if you can. On the flip side, nothing is more confidence-inspiring than certainty. When I’m certain that my child can tackle a new hurdle, it’s contagious – and actually makes it possible for them to see that possibility, themself.
Truth is, while it’s important for all of us to believe in ourselves, it helps – a LOT – for someone else to believe in us, too! And that is more true for our kids – and our spouses – than anyone.
So when you're finding yourself a little frustrated – take a moment to remember what is fabulous about your child. And don't keep it a secret! More than likely, your child is frustrated, too, but believing in them, encouraging them, and choosing to see the good traits and positives will make you both feel … well… pretty fabulous!