Parenting Perspective: Being a Positive Parent

April 2, 2010 7:54:12 AM PDT
This weekend I gave myself a parental test: How many positive encouraging words could I say to my son Nicholas, compared to words of complaint, criticisms, commands and warnings.

Far too often, I catch myself saying things that are less than positive to my child. Sometimes I can be downright bossy (at least that's what my wife has told me).

Experts stress the importance of positive interactions with your children, but it can be something parents - including me - can get away from despite our best intentions. What I discovered about myself is that the type of day I've had can influence how I talk to my son. For instance if I've had a bad day, I may not be as positive or encouraging in my conversations with him. But realizing this is half the battle, and that's why I gave myself a parental test.

Various research on family communication has found that we spend very little time actually talking with our kids these days - less than 20 minutes a day on average. When we do say something to them it's not likely to increase their sense of self-worth.

Carleton Kendrick a noted child psychologist has written many articles on what he calls ''the dismal state of parent-child interaction in the U.S." and he says we need to change how and why we speak with our children every day.

Here is some advice Kendrick has offered to help parents communicate better with their children. I found it extremely helpful:

    1. Instead of reminding them and reprimanding our kids on what they're doing wrong, or for how they're disappointing us, we should remind them and show them how much they are loved.

    2. Parents need to have more real conversations in which we show a genuine interest in their world and share our world with them.

    3. Always try to accentuate the positive - their positives - it should be the primary intention for talking with your kids.

We certainly don't want our children to feel invisible and unnoticed except when they make a mistake. With that in mind, I am stepping up my efforts to tell my son how much I love him, every day.

It's never too late.