I have a confession: I can laser focus on the negative and overlook the positive. At times, in my heart of hearts, I’m accentuating the negative and zooming in on the impossibilities. When it comes to my kids, that means I can easily slip into an overly critical mode, hyper-focused on what the child is doing wrong rather than being supportive to help the child do right.
This can include worrying more about outward compliance than nurturing a child’s inward motivation. When we do that, we can crush a child’s spirit and trample his or her desire to do the right thing.Why do we tend to criticize more and praise less when it comes to our kids? Because we’re human, and it’s easier to think about what to fix on the surface than to dig deeper into matter of the heart.
How do you know if you’re being more negative than positive focused? Think about what’s the first thing you say to your child in the mornings. Is it “I can’t believe you didn’t do X” or “I’m tired of reminding you to do the breakfast dishes”? Or do we encourage him to do well on his math test, or tell the teenager we love her before she leaves for school? Do we send our kids out the door with a positive message or a negative one? Do we greet our children after school with gentle inquiries about their day or a version of the Spanish Inquisition that makes them uncomfortable?