Positive Parenting: What You Say to Your Child Matters
Why is keeping your cool as a parent so important? Why does what you say to your child matter so much, especially when they have you at your wits end? Choosing your words wisely and giving positive feedback reaffirms and reinforces good actions. So when you catch your child is doing something good you tell them “I really like how you did that.” “It makes me happy to see you and your brother/sister play together like that.” “You are so helpful, thank you” “You are loved”, it may seem silly but it gives your child a deep, happy sense of well-being. We can all integrate this positivity into our routine but it becomes challenging when our children start acting up.
When our children have turned the corner form sweet little cutie pie, to terrorizing monster it is hard to stay calm and remember to reaffirm with positive feedback and positive affirmations so that is when we take focus on ourselves and our intention.
What is your intention?
Our words are produced by our thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are made by our intentions. Therefore in order to change our words, really change them, we need to examine our intentions.
As parents our intentions are one of two:
1. To React – this is where we react from the habit the unconscious emotional triggers from our past.
2. To Discover- this is where we discover what our children are thinking and feeling and we set out to teach them how to grow and learn from each experience.
I am just going to say it…I REACT more of the time than I like…I want to DISCOVER more REACT less.
Affirmations to get started on moving from a reactor to a discoverer:
“I seek first to understand and then respond.”
“I see all situations through my child’s eyes.”
* This one is great when you are particularly struggling, like when your child is throwing a temper tantrum and you feel like you are going to lose it.*
“This is a teachable moment.”
I believe in positive affirmations as the first step in changing a long-term habit. Positive affirmations can truly help wrap your mind around something that you want to change, get you more aware and even bring on the change you want to see. I mean affirmations, in general, are just thoughts, things we say to ourselves both positive and negative. So instead of saying “I can’t believe this child is doing this.” “I am going to lose it.” “Didn’t I just say!” so if we turn those into “I seek first to understand and then respond.” “I see all situations through my child’s eyes.” “This is a teachable moment.” I would recite these first two positive affirmations multiple times daily. However, you reciting positive affirmations are not going to stop you from losing your cool.
You have to know your triggers. Positive Affirmations are going to be the way we set our intention, a trigger will reset it. Triggers can change your best intentions back to an unconscious reaction in a split second. A trigger is a set of emotional memories and reactions that affect how we think and feel and respond to others. It’s not conscious which is what makes them complicated to deal with. We all have our own set of “triggers” behaviors that touch us so deeply, we instantly flip into rage or depression.
When you know your reactions, you can stop your triggers before they happen. Take a moment and look closely at different types of situations and see what types of situations really make you happy, sad, angry or disappointed. Do you see a pattern?
Ask yourself: “What do I really want? Do I want to blame? Or solutions?”
Use the Five R’s
“What is happening?” Or “What happened?”
“How did that make (the other person) feel?”
“Do you need to say you’re sorry?”
“Do you need to fix anything?”
“What will you do next time?”
1. Review “what is happening?” or “what happened?”
When young children are upset, the first R (“Review”) involves talking. Describe the situation, acknowledging and giving words that might be feeling:
“Anthony took your doll. You are angry.”
Isabella says yes. “You were so angry, so you hit him” Isabella nods again.
2. Realize: “How did that make Anthony feel?”
3. Remorse: “Do you need to say you’re sorry?”
“I’m sorry, Anthony.”
4. Repair: “Do you need to fix anything?”
Isabella hugs Anthony.
5. Resolve: “What will you do next time?”
(If your child doesn’t know, then you offer suggestions as gentle, respectful questions.)
“Would you use your words instead of your hands?”
That is great! Well done!
You can start this right away!
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