Not everything our kids do is praiseworthy. But when they do something well or make a wise decision, it’s important to celebrate together so they learn to appreciate doing the right things.
Not only does this encourage our kids, it also builds a healthy relationship of trust with us as parents. Every time we praise and encourage for doing things well, we communicate that we are with our kids and for our kids.
Here’s the critical part: To have healthy relationships with our children, we should celebrate more than we correct.
A study of newly married couples found that it took about five positive relationship interactions to make up for one negative interaction. That principle holds true for parenting relationships. Kids are like bank accounts and you can’t withdraw more than you deposit. In fact, the newlywed study shows that the exchange rate is about five to one!
This doesn’t mean we celebrate every little thing our kids do. If they had their way, we’d throw them a party every time they took a bite of broccoli. Our son used to clap his hands after every successful delivery of spoon to mouth and say, “hooray! Momma, Dadda, hooray! Clap your hands!” We would say, “we’ll celebrate with you when you finish all your food.”
The principle is to celebrate the victories together, but the fine print is to celebrate more than we correct. Without going overboard, seek to have at least a five to one ratio of positive reinforcement to discipline. Our kids need to know we love them and celebrate their victories even more than we correct their weaknesses.