Wednesday, 6 January 2010

positive parenting is to turn things around on their head completely!

For positive parenting, the words we use with our children play a big part in shaping their attitudes, their thoughts and their lives.

The other day in the supermarket I overheard a harassed mother trying to get her small child under control and my toes curled to hear the things she was saying! Things like "Shut up", "you're always so naughty", "wait till I catch you you'll be sorry" and swear words and insults sprinkled in that I can't even bring myself to repeat. I felt for that little child, seeing in action a supposedly responsible adult destroying his self-esteem, giving him the belief that he's a bad person. It made me want to weep.

That's a really extreme example. But seeing things like that makes me become very aware of the words I use in all my interactions. Children are so vulnerable that even without realizing it we can damage them by using negative words and phrases.

It's easy to fall into the habit of using a really negative word when a gentler alternative is possible. All children do things from time to time that are inappropriate and it's necessary to tell them so. Sometime they do things repeatedly. It might be hitting a sibling, or refusing to go to bed on time for instance. What if without thinking we got into a habit of saying, "I hate that you're always picking on your sister." It's an appropriate thing to tackle - our child needs to know that behaviour is inappropriate! But there are two problems with that sentence. "Hate" is a very intense word! And "always" suggests to our child that we don't believe he can change for the better.

What if we simply replaced this sentence with a less negative one, such as: "It peeves me when you pick on your sister."

If we can add something positive, like: "I know you can do better because usually you two get on so well," then that is even better!

So reducing the power of the negative by choosing words that are less intense is a good start to a calmer household.

Here are some intense negative words, with some suggestions of my favourite alternatives:
Hate --- Dislike
Furious / Livid --- Annoyed / Peeved / a bit Cranky
Mad --- Displeased
Disgusted --- Surprised

Another way to approach this is to turn things around on their head completely! Like this:

Before I would say:
"I'm so depressed today."

Instead I can choose:
"I'm not as happy as I could be today."

"I'm in a foul temper."
"I'll calm down again in a little while."

Or even a simple thing like:
"I'm freezing cold."
Can change to:
"I could be warmer!"

I love changing my vocabulary that way because it makes me focus on the positive, which just seems to bring more positive things - more warmth, calm and happiness - into my life. I hope this idea can do the same for you and your children!

Finally, what about enhancing the positive words you already use with your children to make them not just nice but FANTASTIC?

"Well done," could become "That was impeccable."
"Nice" becomes "Awesome."
"Determined" - "Unstoppable."
"Great" - "Phenomenal."

You can have great fun with this idea - you can expand your child's vocabulary and share some wonderful emotions that positive words inspire in both of you!


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