Simi Yellen, parenting guru and creator of “Raise the Bar Parenting” urges parents to create a positive atmosphere at home by proactively giving our kids positive attention rather than responding to kids’ misbehavior with lots of negative attention (à la, threats such as the following: “Joshua come back here this minute or your father and I will leave you all alone with a new, drug-addicted babysitter while we take your little brother to Disney World by himself and let him play Minecraft the whole way down!”).
The idea here is that our children misbehave to grab what they want more than anything: our focused attention.
How to stop this misbehavior? Catch the kids being good. Give them lots of positive attention and praise when they’re acting like model citizens.
Even more, show them that we love them for who they are, rather than for what they do.
I explain to my boys that I dole out love and affection (and individual Lego mini-figure body parts) “just because I love you,” not only as part of the desired behavior/ earned reward transaction.
Kids want to ride scooters to Starbucks even though homework’s not done? Ordinarily, no. But occasionally, “Yes! Let’s go!”
“Just because I love you!”
Do we do the same for ourselves?
Many of my clients, particularly Weight Watchers alumnae, talk about “rewarding themselves” for weight loss.
What if we rewarded ourselves with love not because we’ve lost weight, or gotten the promotion, or run the marathon — not because we’ve worked hard to earn it. What if we gave to ourselves “just because I love you?”
A client raids the fridge every night, she claims, because her husband doesn’t notice her, doesn’t understand what it feels like to take conference calls from the car while schlepping three kids (and a babysitter who doesn’t drive) from equestrian lessons to chess. She’s afraid no one will pay attention so she’s getting her own attention by binging, regretting and obsessing about the number on the scale.
Pay attention to yourself by going for a walk, reading fiction, calling a friend, taking a nap, watching Ted talks, trying on every item of clothing at Anthropologie, having a real massage (not the 10-minute chair massage at the nail salon).
Don’t wait till the number on the scale is “right.”
Do it now.
Do it “just because I love you.”
© Liora Powers