I think Steven Covey first talked about this concept in his 7 Habits book. I was an early adopter to the principle in my leadership role and quickly discovered how positively my employees reacted to my regular affirmations.
One day, it dawned on me, “Why not do this with my kids?”
I’m here to testify, it works.
Parents typically feel they need to correct and discipline from the negative. It’s a safe approach, we’ve been there, we know the risks of what they are doing, we see our kids behavior, dress or an attitude we don’t like and we go after it. Our comments come from the negative—Don’t, why can’t, you never…
There is another way. Every day find them doing things right. Compliment them (not from a patronizing level or insincerely, they’ll pick that up immediately) frequently. Keep finding them doing things right and build on that behavior and that attitude. You can start out easy and move to the harder areas. Just start.
Here are the benefits. It shows them behavioral boundaries from a positive perspective. It keeps you on the positive side instead of always coming from the negative. It reinforces them instead of always feeling criticized. And, you’ll soon tally up all they do right and find it far outweighs what they do that isn’t acceptable.
What does it require? Paying attention. Yes, it requires that you as a parent put down your iPad, your iPhone, whatever gadget of the day is and discover your kids doing things right. Easy. It requires you to speak up and compliment them. You can even go the extra mile and write them a little note (OK, text them if you want, but nothing says “Thank” like a simple hand-written note).
Take the 30-day challenge. Make it a point to finding your kids doing things right. See for yourself how their attitude changes (and yours as well).
Let me know how it goes…