In my last article, “Choices,” we talked about giving our children choices to help them feel empowered and to practice for later in life when decisions become harder. Today we are going to talk about how to continue creating that healthy and positive environment by using the technique of “stating in the positive.”
The Value of “No”
Let me first say that I honestly believe that the word “no” definitely belongs in our vocabulary when raising children. However, I believe that it needs to be used only when our children are doing something dangerous — like hurting another person or animal, running into the street, using a sharp knife, or climbing on a ladder, etc. When we overuse the word “no”, it loses its value. So what can we say instead when they are jumping on the couch or running in the house?
When our children are doing something that irritates us, it is helpful to stop and think before we react. Oftentimes when we react in the moment, it comes out negatively which only upsets everyone involved. I know when someone tells me not to do something in a negative way, I feel angry. In fact, it makes me want to do it even more. It is the same with our children. So first, take a breath and think, “What is my child doing and what do I want my child to do instead?” Be specific about the behavior you WANT. That breath also helps you to calm down so you are able to be more positive.
Instead of saying “Stop bugging each other!”, you could say, “Carmen, you can go play with Legos. Santos, you can go ride your bike.”
Instead of saying, “Don’t run in the house!”, you could say, “If you want to run, you can run outside.”
Instead of saying, “Stop hurting the dog!”, you could say, “If you want to touch the dog, you can pet the dog gently.”
We all know that words are just one element in the art of communication. Our voice and body language have major impacts as well. Even if our words are positive, a negative tone of voice or look on our face can still give our children a negative message. Taking that breath and thinking about what you want specifically helps you to create that positive message that is so influential in building your child’s positive self-esteem.
Nurture the Environment
When my husband and I planted a garden this year, we took extra care in creating the perfect environment for our little plants to flourish. We prepared the soil, planted the seedlings, and built a chicken wire fence around it to protect them. But after the initial work, there was still nurturing that needed to be done if we expected to produce healthy vegetables. So we continue to water and weed the garden so it has the most positive environment in which to grow.
Cultivating a garden reminds me of parenting. When our children are born, we have so much love and hope for their futures. We give them what we think they need to be successful. We feed them. We nurture them. We teach them. In truth, we want our children to grow into happy, healthy, compassionate, cooperative and responsible adults. But as they grow, we must continue to be intentional in creating a positive environment for them to have a healthy and bountiful self-esteem.
When we fill our home with positive statements, we create that positive environment where our children can grow into happy, healthy, compassionate, cooperative, and responsible adults. We also create a family life where our children know what behaviors we expect, rather than which ones we don’t want to see.