I feel like I am always the bad cop in our house. I am always telling my son what he is doing wrong. I want to kick myself. But I do it again the next time. Does this sound like you? Do you find yourself stuck in the ‘negaverse’?
Parents tend to look out for all that is negative before we appreciate the positive. We have an in- built tendency to pay attention to bad news before good news. After all, the bad news might bring things that hurt us and so it’s instinctive behaviour.
As parents we are quick to say to our teens (when they’re withdrawn or struggling with something): “What’s wrong?” We say these words with deep sincerity. We may spend enormous time research- ing a symptom or an attitude that appears to be the problem. We seek out the best treatments to sort out the “issue”. Sometimes these “issues” might just be the not-good-enough qualities of our children or ourselves. We live in a world that points out everything that is “not enough”.
Psychologists have discovered that being positive is not our normal default position. Instead, being constantly positive is the result of practice. And it’s a worthwhile practice – to break us out of the negaverse. To be appreciative of just what is. To resist the urge to say to your children: “So you got a B. Okay, but now where’s the A?”
To be grateful over and over again for a warm breeze, a blue sky, a family meal, a smile, a hug or
just the fact that your teen is safe at home … And so, what to do?
Be Like Goldilocks
I’d suggest you start being like Goldilocks. Things are as they are (neither too simple, nor too complex) and that’s just fine. Practise saying positive things like the below to your children: “So nice to have you home!” or “I love spending time with you.”
The Growth Mindset
We can learn to put a positive spin on things, and we can learn to have a broader perspective. What I like most is an approach called ‘the growth mindset’. The goal is to revise the dogmatic educational system of ‘right and wrong’ or ‘pass and fail’. Research on the growth mindset has proven that children who had been praised for their intelligence performed worse in future tasks and were fixated on comparing themselves to others. But the children who had been praised for their efforts performed better and were more open to learning new things.
The more we as parents say, ‘You are so clever, bright, gifted’, the more we pressurise our chil- dren into a fixed mindset. The more we discuss and dialogue what they learnt or could do differ-
ently, the more our children will be motivated to improve and discover new things.
Exercises for the Family
Some people seem to have a mental mind-set that immediately sees the good in everything. You might be one of those lucky ones. I too look for those activities where we all have things in com- mon and I plan for the occasions when we can share them. “Engineering” towards happy times builds family bonds and creates amazing mem- ories of togetherness. How about inviting your teen(s) to suggest some togetherness activities? You – and your children – might be pleasantly surprised – and inspired.
If you are interested in delving deeper into conscious parenting, please register for my online course by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org