How to Be a More Positive Parent

I really want to be a positive parent — the kind of parent whose home is marked by peace and harmony more than discord and chaos. The kind of parent who respects her children and leads them with a quiet calm, as opposed to the kind of parent who barks out orders. But real life is tough! I get stressed out and sleep-deprived and my boys are, well, boys. They don’t always pick up after themselves or do what they’re told and sometimes, um, I lose it.

Often, our interactions feel more transactional than anything else. It’s me issuing orders and reminding them do what they didn’t do: Pick up your garbage. Put your dishes away. Did you do your homework? Your stuff is still laying on the table!

And that’s normal, right? But maybe there’s a better way…

Focus on What’s Right

This morning, I ran across an amazing article, “How Parents Can Be Happy on Purpose,” on Twitter. The article, by Nancy Buck, starts like this:

Are you willing to participate in an experiment? It won’t take long. Just follow these directions:

  • List the last three things your child did that required your correction or reminder.
  • Now list the last three things your child did well, correctly and independently.

You can probably already see where this is going. Her point is that we parents most often notice and comment on our kids’ negative behavior, while overlooking that 600 things they do right every day. (That we notice the negative is not really our fault. As she states in the article, the human brain operates on a negative feedback loop. This is how we’re wired!)

Buck challenges us to:

take stock of what your child is doing well and joyfully, and tell your child. Make it a point to do this at regular intervals throughout the day, like at dinner. You might even set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to give them consistent positive feedback.

I shared Buck’s article in our BuildingBoys private Facebook group this morning & asked if anyone would like to join me in a week-long experiment:

For a week, let’s suck up/hold back all the nagging we do, & focus instead on telling our kids what they’re doing RIGHT.

The response was immediate and enthusiastic, so I know I’m not alone in needing some support and assistance to remain focused on the positive. (One of our moms wrote, “Tween and teen boys are at each other’s throats lately. My husband and I feel like all we do is say their names followed by STOP IT. I want a new way!!!)

So, let’s focus on what’s right. Here’s how this challenge will work:

  • Join us and introduce yourself in our FB group. Tell us your name, how many kids you have and their ages. You can share your parenting challenges too. Tell us, “I’m taking the Focus on What’s Right 7-day Challenge.”
  • Check the FB group daily. Each day (today through next Mon.), I’ll post a reminder and at least one idea you can use to focus on what’s right.
  • Share your stories — both your successes and your challenges! Feel free to start your own thread in our FB group. I want to hear what happens when you tell your son what he’s doing right. And I want to hear about the times you slip up, forget, and slip into negativity again. (Hey, old habits are hard to break!)
  • Respond with compassion. We’re all trying to learn a new approach to parenting and discipline. If you respond to someone else’s comment or story in the Facebook group, please keep it positive, supportive and encouraging.

Ready? Let’s go! Head on over to our FB group to join us.

P.S. You can share this post & challenge with your friends too! 

The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

The Building Boys Bulletin is funded by direct subscriptions from readers like you. If you’d like the full experience, please consider becoming a paying subscriber.

“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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