I wrote a few weeks ago about how common it is for kids to get the message that they are bad (see post here). If you are guilty of this, it isn’t because that is what you want your kids to think, it’s just that it is easy to get stuck focusing on all the things your kids aren’t doing, or are doing wrong. However, with a slight shift of focus, everything flows better, and your results will be much better as well.
The other day I had a great opportunity to choose my focus. My son was receiving an award at school, and my 10-year old daughter decided to come with us. However, with the busy day we had she didn’t feel ready, and when we pulled up to the middle school, she asked if she could stay in the van. It wasn’t baking hot, just warm, and so I agreed. We live in a small town and I was very comfortable with her having the windows open, or coming in if she was too warm.
An hour later, when I got out to the car, I discovered that she had been running the air conditioner with the keys, but without the van all the way on. So the battery was completely, 100% dead. Now I had appointments to keep, a beautiful flower basket that I’d been given as a thank you for helping with the breakfast program, and no vehicle!
Fortunately after a few minutes I found someone I knew, and asked for a ride home. Although this had happened once before a year or so ago, I realized that I could have thought to mention/reminder my daughter not to turn on the air conditioner. So instead of getting exasperated, which once would have been my response, I focused on the fact that this was such an easy way to learn that lesson.
We were not in any harm, we didn’t have to walk, take a taxi, or find someone to come and charge the battery. I knew my husband would be home later, and we could drive the 5 minutes back to the van and boost it. If we’d been on holidays, or in the city, that same event would have been huge.
I’m not perfect, and am increasingly okay with that fact. I have days where I make the wrong choice and focus on the negative. I know though that when I do, I am less happy, and less successful as a parent. I want my children to have the profound message that they are good for who they are, and to not fear making mistakes. So I continue to develop the habit of focusing on the positive in each situation, and remembering their goodness when I notice the negative.
If you find yourself slipping and having a negative focus, like I did this morning, use that as an opportunity to demonstrate how to repair relationship mistakes. Tell your kids you got caught up in a negative focus, apologize if appropriate, and move on. That way you are showing them how to do a repair themselves when they behave poorly in relationships. Then you turn your “mistake” into a perfect teaching moment. That’s why I said in my earlier article, Great Parenting is Perfect Imperfection!
I’m off to make my repair with my daughter, who will be home from drama camp soon. I’d love to hear how your focus affects your parenting, and any specific examples of where you changed your focus, or made a repair afterward.
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