I remember my first year of teaching well. I was a country girl, recently married and had just moved to the big city. The school I was sent to was an inner city primary school and the street on which it was located was notorious for prostitution and drug dealing!
(It would have been nice to know that before I stopped off at a café for coffee and later learnt, with great hilarity from my colleagues, that the particular place I had chosen was known to have the worst reputation for drug trafficking in the area!)
I love children, so I entered the arena of my teaching career in this somewhat dubious suburb with high expectations of loving and nurturing the precious little ones who would be placed in my care.
Very quickly I learned that children who come from ‘broken’ environments come with many needs. As I struggled with a group of children who were rowdy, rambunctious and also clingy and sad, I learned two powerful lessons:
• Firstly, all children respond much better to love, calmness and a controlled quiet voice, than to anger, yelling and frustration.
• Secondly, positive affirmation is gold but sometimes we need to intentionally dig to find the nuggets to praise.
I believe these principles are just as much key to our parenting as they were to my teaching style.
In a year at MOPS where one of our goals is to ‘Notice Goodness’, why not experiment in your home and see if you can spend more time affirming your children for the good things they are doing rather than yelling, and turning into ‘angry-frustrated-mamma’ over every misdemeanor and annoyance.
Sounds good doesn’t it, but believe me I know it’s not easy.
Intentionally looking for those things worthy of praise in our children’s behavior actually takes time and effort on our behalf. When you are cooking tea, folding the washing, and changing the baby’s nappy, the last thing you naturally think to do is to watch the two older siblings at play to find something worth of praise. It’s much easier to forget them unless they argue or wreck something. But believe me the effort is worth it. Praising your children just for playing nicely, or for sharing their toys or for remembering not to interrupt you while you were on the phone will have a transforming effect in your home.
• You will head off potential bad behavior.
• You will yell less, thus a calmer home environment for all.
• You will be positive role model, your children will actually begin to praise one another!