5 secrets to breaking the parental habit of negativity

Today I am delighted to have Janis Meredith from http://jbmthinks.com/ as my guest blogger. Janis writes a youth sports blog focusing on parenting & character building.

5 secrets to breaking the parental habit of negativity

“Why are you so negative?”

I’m sad to say that’s a question I was asked many times by my kids as they grew up.

And my answer?

“I’m just being realistic.”

Yes, I really did believe that. And sometimes I still do fall back into the habit of negativity.   It’s an easy default for my analytical, worry-prone mind.

Do you find yourself with that same default? If so, I want to share with you some tips that I’ve found to be helpful in breaking that nasty parental habit.

Think about what you are going to say before you say it. You know your kids, you know your friends or family. You know what they are likely to be thinking as you give your “realistic” point of view. Will they see it as negative? Will they see you as a wet blanket? Sometimes rehearsing the words in your head and thinking of how they may sound to others will help you keep your mouth shut.

Rephrase your dialogue. Changing a few words can take the negativity out of your statement. Instead of saying, “Man, you were really struggling with your shot tonight”, try “Hey, good job taking a lot of shots!  You will get it.”

Another way to rephrase the point you are trying to make is to ask a question instead, one that forces them to come up with an honest and realistic answer.

There were many times as my kids played sports when I felt like the only “realistic” thing to say after a game was “Man, you sucked tonight.” Fortunately, I didn’t! Instead, I would often ask, “How do you feel about your game tonight?”

Focus on the positive. As a sports parent for 18 years and a coach’s wife for 28, I’ve seen a lot of parental negativity in the sports world. And the problem is that many parents are focusing on the negative, not the positive. They are frustrated with their child’s lack of playing time or their child’s lack of aggression. They point out the mistakes made by the refs, coaches, and team mates.

I watched a girls’ softball game a while ago and overheard a parent say to his 11-year-old daughter, “You haven’t gotten one hit today, have you?” Even his lighthearted tone could not take away the sting from his comment. If he was looking for a way to motivate his daughter to hit better in the next game, he would have had more success with a positive, “Hey, nice swinging out there. I know you’ll get it next time.”

Re-examine your expectations. Negativity stems from disappointment and disappointment comes from unmet expectations. Are you expecting too much from your child or husband? Are you allowing them room for mistakes and growth?

As athletes or musicians or actors–whatever it is your child does–your kids will not always perform to the best of their ability. You may expect your kid to always do his best simply because you don’t want to see them flub. But every athlete has a bad game or a hitting slump and even the best musician struggles with a song now and then. Count on it.

Parental expectations should make room for the ups and downs of life.

It doesn’t always have to be your job to set things straight. I think this has been one of my biggest failings. It’s MY job, isn’t it, as a parent, to help my child see things as they really are? Well, yes, and no.

There will be appropriate times for those heart-to-heart conversations with your kids. There will be opportunities to be honest and open and let them hear your loving concerns.

But there will also be other ways for your child to face the realities of life through sports, school, friends, other family members, and work. And when life dispenses its own harsh reality to your child, you need not say a word to add to it.

Parental negativity is an ugly habit. And one that is very hard to break. But with consistent practice and some major tongue-biting, it can be conquered.

To find out more about more Janis Meredith and her sporting articles go to http://jbmthinks.com/

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