The other day, I was with a bunch of mom's from Mom's Group, and I couldn't help but notice one of the parenting techniques that one of the moms was using. It seemed to work really well for her, and really intrigued me.
I noticed that even when she was correcting the behavior of her kids, she rarely told them "no", "stop", or "don't". For example, when her boys were playing in a part of the house that they weren't supposed to be in, she said, "Boys, you can come out of that room now." When her boys were running through the house, she said, "Boys, you can walk through this house please. You are so smart, and I know you're going to do a great job listening to this rule."
It sounds silly, but I was kind of blown away. Especially when her kids DID listen, and DIDN'T run in the house, even when other kids started to again.
That's not to say that she never said "no", "don't", or "stop"--when one of her boys hit the other, she said, "John, no. Don't hit your brother again." But I noticed that she used no/don't/stop sparingly, and usually only when the boys were doing something that was harmful to themselves or others.
It reminded me of something I heard a few months ago. When I was at work, there was a man who taught parenting classes. Once, I heard him mention that there is usually a 1 to 5 ratio in terms of positive things we say to kids versus negative things or correction. He said that correction and boundaries are very important, but that we have to be careful that our words don't sound like we're saying 'Everything you do is wrong' and that the ratio really should be more like 5 to 1. Think about it...it's easy over the course of a half an hour to say:
Don't jump on the couch.
Don't lick the cat.
Stop making that noise.
Don't play with that.
Don't hit your brother.
No, you cannot have some more candy.
What if positive redirection could be used on all of those instances except 'Don't hit your brother' ? It's a hard paradigm shift, and even harder to put into practice. Believe me. Over the past two days, I've been watching two of Lizzy's older cousins. They are GREAT, AMAZING, and SWEET kids, but it is *still* so easy to fall into the trap of saying "no, no no" all day, when really, they're not doing anything terribly wrong. When I remembered, I tried to use positive redirection on the small stuff, and it typically worked really well. I'm going to make it a goal to keep at it. I do think it's important for kids to have boundaries and to hear "no" from their parents, but I also think that it's important to build up self-esteem and self-worth in our kids. Maybe this is a way to do both?
What do you guys think?