Thursday, 24 October 2013


I seem to spend a lot of my time saying "no!" these days.  It comes from having a 3-year-old and nearly 2-year-old in the house.  Some days it seems like all that comes out of my mouth is negative.

"Don't do that!"
"How many times do I have to tell you?"
"What did I just say?!"
"Am I talking to myself?"

That last one is my favourite.  I sound like my mother (sorry Mum!)  It's that old chestnut, all the things you promised you'd never say to your own children because it drove you up the wall when you were young.
When Isaac was a baby, I read something that has stuck with me ever since.  My mum has commented on it a couple of times.  And it really makes a difference to how I feel about my children and about myself.

Catch them doing something good.

It's easy to let them get on with it when they're eating their dinner nicely.  And so easy to get on their case when they're climbing the tv shelf again.  Or brushing their teeth independently, smearing toothpaste all over the bathroom.  Or playing hide & seek under the table instead of eating their dinner.  (All examples just from today.  Just so you know.)

But then I sound like a nag.  And I start to get frustrated with myself and with them.  Why do I have to say the same things over and over?  Why do they seem to do things designed to wind me up?  Why can't I be more gentle and patient with them?
So I make a conscious effort to find them doing something positive.  And then tell them about it.  "You're doing great eating tonight."  "What good sharing you're doing!"  "You're such a great big brother, that was a really kind thing to do."  And after a while, it became a habit.  I think it makes us all feel better.  The more you draw attention to something, the more that's what you see.  So if all I do is comment on the negative, I leave the day with a negative impression of it.  When actually, the day has been average (in most cases) and the children are just that: children.  They don't do it on purpose, they're learning.  They try to please me and to get my attention and if I don't give it to them in positive ways, they'll settle for the negative.  And I feel less like a harpy and more like a mum who enjoys her children.  Good things all round.

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