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Self-Esteem is a BIG topic and needs much more attention than a quick parenting tip! However, we will focus on one aspect that affects self-esteem… paying attention to the Positive vs Negative messages ratio. This just means ensuring you use more positive, loving, supporting words than negative, “correcting” words. Sometimes this is referred to as Strengths Based vs. Deficit Based.
It is often said that 5-10 positive messages are needed to counteract one negative message.
Because our brains are more sensitive to negative information. I bet most people reading this have heard a negative message or criticism from childhood that they have carried around with them a long time. Even though the person who delivered this message may have not had ill intent, words can sting and they imprint. Especially if they are about a particular aspect of self. Often, even the most mild change in wording and tone can have a big impact on the receiver.
How might these messages be received as a child?
Possibly, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m so forgetful”, “I’m always late”,”I failed again”, “Mom’s not pleased with me.”
Instead… try “Connecting Before Correcting”
The subtle difference is that there is interest and concern expressed first and no judgement implied in the questions. This shows positive concern, as opposed to negative message. Of course, as parents there are times we need to give reminders and speak about behaviour and routines etc. If we keep in mind to connect with the person first, the message will always be received more positively. This holds true for all relationships, not just parent and child.
For more about the language of encouragement, see this parenting tip.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you have any examples of how you might implement this in your parenting?