“Eva, you need to come wash off the toothpaste stain on the wash hand basin”
“I already did mom”
“Yes, I acknowledge your effort. There’s just a little bit left. I am certain you would have got rid of it if you had observed it too”
This conversation could as well have been:
Eva! Where are you??? Come right here and wash this nonsense toothpaste you left on the wash hand basin”
“I have washed it mom”
“You have washed it? Indeed! How did I then see it then? That’s how you left the tap half-closed yesterday and you were still insisting you had locked it!” My friend, come here right now! Where are you? Is it not you I am talking too..??
Sounds familiar right? I bet!
Children can only build on strength
Children can only build on strength; they cannot build on weaknesses. Acknowledging this basic fact will enable us to direct our words and actions in a manner that serves the strength in our children. The ripple effect of this is that whatever we focus on, becomes and grow more- acknowledging and focusing on their strength is like the much needed tonic to boost the innate strength in them.
As naija parents and people generally, we have been hard wired and conditioned to mismatch. This means that we notice, mention and observe differences. Driving down the road for instance, you don’t tend to notice the normal behavior of other cars or people walking on the side walk. But if a car suddenly came to a stop, or a child suddenly ran to the road, you do take notice because something is different.
You need to ponder: do you notice what your child does not do right so often that your reprimand has faded to the background and has become as ordinary as cars on the road or people on the sidewalk? Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf right? What was the result? Before long, the villagers stopped responding to his false cries.
When a parent’s focus is only on the shortcoming of his or her child, before long (shows up in the teenage years), the child will stop listening and all the often well-intended admonition of the parent to call that child to order will seemingly have no impact.
The better alternative is to change your child’s behavior without even having to result to pay attention to only what he isn’t doing right. Instead, change his behaviour by giving positive feedbacks and spotlighting the kind of behaviour you want him to showcase. Acknowledge what he has done right give him a positive feedback about it first. Then, sandwich your recommendation and close the conversation by giving yet another positive feedback.
When we begin to shift our focus to the positive, we will find that positive attracts positive. Our positive feedback will encourage our children to bring on more positive behaviour. Think about it this way: Imagine your boss gives you an assignment and as you were still figuring it out, he comes out and says: O Mr Johnson, I appreciate you as an invaluable member of our team. I trust that you will complete this assignment to meet the deadline. What effect would these words have on you? I bet if you’ll be more interested in putting in extra effort or time to ensure that you turn in an impressive report. If also, you got the directive wrong, and rather than bring down the roof, your boss takes one look at you and goes: O Mr Johnson, this would be the perfect solution for xyz project! I’m hopeful that when we get there, this will come valuable. For now however, what is required of you is abc. What impact would this have on your motivation? How would it shift you?
I humbly invite you on the journey to improve your parenting practices. Join the game changers. Shift your focus and see your children become the best version of themselves. This works.