Make 2008 the best year ever!
Take the Terrific Parenting 30-day challenge
By Randy Cale, PH.D
Do you feel like you are wasting energy with your kids? Does it seem that the whining and complaining is going to drive you crazy? Do you lose your cool when trying to get the kids to listen? Are you eager to have a more positive and healthy relationship with your kids?
Well maybe it’s time to start 2008 with the Terrific Parenting 30 day challenge!
Let me ask you to imagine this: Suppose I have been magically following you around your house for the past year and I have been carrying two buckets. On the side of the first bucket is a plus sign (+) for positive behavior. Every time that you engaged, noticed, smiled at or talked to your kids during a positive or healthy moment, I put a penny in the positive bucket.
In the other hand, I have bucket with a negative (-) sign. Every time that you invested energy in a negative behavior—nagging, reminding, prodding, pushing, arguing, giving nasty looks or even commanding your children to change their current behavior—you got a penny.
What would these two buckets look like? Many of the parents I work with tell me it looks like the negative bucket is overflowing and there are a few pennies in the positive bucket.
Well, this is a problem. It’s even a bigger problem as time goes by. We have to change this if we want 2008 to be the best year ever. Why? Because you can’t nurture more positive behavior by investing your energy in negative behavior.
This is a critical fundamental that many of us just don’t get. If your child happens to be an easy child, who has few oppositional or challenging qualities, then you can “sneak by” without coming to head-to-head with this critical lesson.
However, if you have a child who is more oppositional, strong willed, resistant or non-compliant, then you must understand this fundamental principal or otherwise life will get ugly.
So, the first principal to master is: You cannot nurture positive and healthy behavior by consistently investing your energy and time in negative behavior. So what do you do instead? You must master the rule of watering seeds and starving weeds!
Seeds refer to positive, healthy and productive behavior. There are seeds of happiness, seeds of responsibility and seeds of kindness. These are all the behaviors we want to nurture.
And then there are weeds! Weeds include all the negative behavior, such as whining, complaining, negotiating, arguing, not listening, disrespect, kids squabbling and general attitudes of negativity.
Your home may be a place where you invest more of your energy in weeds than seeds. If so, you likely have a few struggles on your hands. But if you take the 30-day challenge, you can turn this around.
How do you do this?
Start watering seeds very heavily. For the next month, obsess on moments of thoughtfulness, kindness, hard work and responsibility. When the kids are carrying their plate from the table to the dishwasher, touch them on the shoulder and smile. When they help to carry in the groceries, gently wink at them. While they are doing their homework, walk by and give them a 30-second shoulder rub. When they are playing well together, walk by and smile, bring them a cup of juice or give them a thumbs-up. Every time you give your attention to these positive moments, you are watering seeds of responsibility with your attention and energy.
In addition however, you must “starve weeds.” You must avoid giving your energy to weeds, or otherwise they just keep growing. Have you noticed that you can bring harsh consequences upon these “weed like behaviors” and they just still don’t seem to go away? It’s because you keep watering them—with your attention and energy.
So over the next 30 days, see what happens when you start ignoring those weeds. I know it’s hard, but you still have to show them that this negative behavior is not worthy of your attention. The world will not invest in these negative, annoying and unproductive moments. So to prepare them for the real world you must teach them you will walk away.
For some of you, your child will follow you. They will be your shadow, whining and complaining all the while. But you have to keep starving that weed until it fades away. Be patient! Seeds take a while to grow.
As you go through the next month, do not expect magical results at the end of a week. I would encourage you to not even expect magical results by the end of two weeks.
But, if you consistently put your energy into moments of positive, healthy behavior and consistently walk away from more negative behavior, you will see a dramatic shift in your household. Test it, and make 2008 the best year ever!
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for
a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.