It takes 9 positives to correct a negative

jubileejMarch 31, 2007

I have come to the painful realization this year, now that my youngest is about to graduate HS, that I have not properly "housebroken" him. In my zeal to correct this, I have allowed all of my waking comments to be directives:

"Chris-to-pher,. . . followed by an accusation/command," as in, "Christopher, I asked you to clean the catpan and take out the trash yesterday, Do it!"

It has somewhat begun to take effect. The only problem is, there is so much wonderful and good to talk about that we've missed in the process - and my son flinches when I say his name.

So, this little bit of advice comes to mind - which means I've got a lot of catching up to do!

"It takes nine positive statements to balance the effects of one negative one."

Whatdya think?

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jubileej, I appreciate your vulnerability, humility and willingness to share this. I'm so sorry for both you and your son in this season. But how wonderful that you've had this "a-ha moment." It takes courage to recognize (much less admit to someone else!) our less-than-stellar parenting moments. I know how easy it is to fall into "housebreaking mode" with kids - to become so focued on the behaviors I need out of them that I forget to pay attention to the condition of their hearts and spirits; to spend more time picking on what's wrong instead of calling forth whats right...

That said, I completely agree that negative comments carry more weight than positive ones. Dr. John Gottman tells couples that they need a 5:1 ratio of positive:negative comments to each other in order to maintain a healthy marriage environment. I wouldn't at all be surprised if that ratio gets upped to 9:1 with children.

That said, I've no doubt that you're probably on your way to giving your son the kind words of encouragement that you sense he needs. Hope that goes well for you both. Thanks for sharing...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 2:29AM
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On the other hand :- (

DS2 was so obstinately and cheerfully cavalier at dinner today about his continuing to address his Oriental English teacher by her last name only (no title), that DH and I both were digging in hard until we could make him see why this was an issue! You might say we were consciously applying the opposite ratio for any hope of reform!!!

This guy knows he is one treasured fellow - Neeyah! It is so hard to achieve a balance!!!

Still and all, it would be so very sad to wave a final good-bye, knowing that the last words of wisdom imparted had been, "Did you bring all the dishes out of your room down to the sink!"

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Some have said that teens are developmentally "wired" to be obstinate, and it sounds like you're getting a full dose of it! (Others might say that teens are just "wired!" :) ). It's as though they push back on and challenge Mom & Dad about everything, and will do the exact opposite of them. Hard to believe sometimes that this is part of a child's growing process, though, isn't it? I think "Chris-to-pher" is blessed to have you as his mom - you're riding this storm of his child-to-adult transition out with him, and no matter how much he pushes on you, you aren't rejecting him and you're still trying your best to be a "Barnabas" to him; that will stay with him a lot longer than this developmental phase, I'm sure...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:53AM
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Me again. Sorry for monopolizing your thread...
I've been thinking about your situation this morning - if you're concerned about having his last memories of home life being hearing commands and orders, I wonder if there's something you and your husband might be able to do with him before he leaves that would give you a chance to encourage him in a special way? Is there an activity or a special trip the three of you (sans siblings) might be able to do together that he would enjoy? Getting out of the typical house routine and just being able to play and laugh a little together might be good for all of you. Just a thought...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:46PM
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Hey, decaf -

I always treasure seeing your posts about! You have a measured and thoughtful way of considering things. Upon reflection, I think that DS can handle direct negative commands just fine, as long as it is balanced by relationship in all areas and not the only thing he ever hears, and if I am not getting emotionally stressed or overly negative about things in general, which I think that he and kids in general tend to internalize.

DH has taken out a tennis membership and takes our son there one or two times a week, and he feels so upbeat after these times. I'll be thinking about that special event (although he is more of a homebody than either of us, LOL!)

BTW, Happy Easter!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:00PM
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Thanks for the kind words - I do appreciate them. Happy Easter to you, as well - and to your family! :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 4:39PM
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