To be a positive parent, I sometimes think it helps to be a little like Dory– try to find the positive in every situation and have a short memory. That short memory part is key – I find it’s better to forget about the last 15 times my kids didn’t listen and focus on the next one. Bringing up the past failures ruins confidence and puts the bad behavior, rather than the good, in their consciousness. Dory’s lesson for us is to focus on the goal, on where we are heading – and to give our kids the confidence that they can get there.
Sometimes, though, finding the positive seems less like Finding Dory and more like finding beauty in the beast. When my kids act up, they can seem like little monsters and it can be difficult to find anything to hang onto. When this happens, if you don’t have a plan, you’re likely to react negatively. So, my advice is to train yourself to always start with a “good job fill-in-the-blank” kind of statement. Even if it’s “Hey, good job standing up.” Once you’ve started positive, you can then make a suggestion for improvement. “Hey, next time can you remember to fill-in-the-blank.”
The next thing you need to have is more elusive. And that’s patience. It’s easy to lose it and hard to find it again. But remember, Belle didn’t find beauty in the beast right away. It took time and faith that there was beauty in there. So, keep at it. It may not seem like they’re listening, but something is getting through.
I try to remind myself that my kids want to be good. My job is to help them get there, not to be annoyed when they fail. I try to remind myself that when I react negatively, I’m actually the one that’s being the beast and that I am teaching them how to react negatively. If I can react positively, I have a better chance to get a positive reaction out of them. And that is a beautiful thing.