Too many times as parents we are tempted to feed off of our children’s negativity. When my five year old daughter throws a tantrum over not getting a toy at the story, I am tempted to get mad and punish. In the stressful moments, I will give in to those temptations. Yet, in the ten years, I was teaching preschoolers, middle schoolers, and even high schoolers, I was never tempted to give into my student’s negativity. I was an avid advocate for positivity in the classroom. In many ways, this is why I was usually one of the top teachers where ever I worked.
Then why was I not also following this philosophy in my own home? Instead, I would come home in a negative mood, and that mood would affect my whole family. Since I stopped working 10 hour days, giving all of my positivity to other people’s children, I have had time to reflect on my philosophies of positive parenting.
I realized that I wasn’t being positive enough at home because I was so clouded by stress, social media, and strangers looks in public. We all know how it feels when a stranger gives you the stink eye when you have a child, or children, who are acting out. It doesn’t feel good to be judged by strangers. So, you let that stressful moment get to you, and you let the negativity win.
I began to experiment with positivity with my children, without them knowing of course. When my eight year old son would get frustrated because his older brother would always win when they played games, I would remind him how everyone is good at different things. I would mention how he is great at dancing and playing dual cards. He would think about it for a second and then change his way of looking at the situation. Now he no longer felt upset at not being good enough. Instead, he felt proud that he was better at something else.
When my two year old daughter would have a tantrum, instead of getting upset and yelling what I wanted her to do, I would bring my voice up to a sweet higher tone. Sometimes this would work, and she would smile and agree to do what I wanted. Other times, she was tired and we all know there is no negotiating with a tired toddler. You just have to give in on those moments or find a way to get them the nap they so desperately need.
When I was teaching, I was really good at connecting with the students who were the most negative. Other teachers would write off those students, and some would even go out of their way to get enough evidence to get the student expelled.
I wasn’t a using some kind of sorcery. I was just keeping it positive. I would talk positively when the student would not feel comfortable to talk or participate. I would turn their negative comments into positive ones. Like the time a student was trying to insult another student in my classroom. Instead of reprimanding the student, I chose to stay positive and pointed out that the student used excellent grammar in what they were saying. I did not mention at all that the fact that they used another students name in their example as a way to insult them. No, instead I praised the student for correctly giving an example of the appropriate English grammar. This usually shocks the student and are left with not much to say after that.
All children crave attention. Many of them have only been taught to seek attention in a negative way because it is the only effective way to get what they crave. In my classroom, I would praise the negative students for every little positive thing I could find. Eventually, they would realize that they could get a positive attention and it was easier too.
Students in my classroom are just someone else’s children. This means that there are parents out there who are not showing enough positivity to their children. So, when your daughter wants to wear the Elsa costume to the grocery store, you let her. It doesn’t matter what that stranger thinks. You are being a positive role model for your children by letting them express themselves. And when your toddler won’t take off that Minions snow hat in the summer, you let her wear it. Those little things will add up to be the reason why your children look back on their childhood with happy memories. They may not remember the Elsa dress or the Minions hat, but they will remember how you let them be themselves.
Go out of your way to be more positive at home and at work. It starts with you.