For whatever reason, as mothers, from time to time we get stuck in this spiral of negativity. We constantly nag at our kids, criticize their every move and have no grace in how we use our facial expressions and body language to communicate to our children. I admit I have been there…. You?

These are the times where we feel irritated. The interesting thing is that it usually doesn’t even have anything to do with the kids. We are triggered by our own fears, assumptions, or memories (and usually we are not even aware of it). So any communication that comes from us towards our children, comes from a place of negativity.

And in those moments it’s so important to remember the 5-1 ratio. What this means is that the human brain is FIVE TIMES MORE affected by negativity than positivity. So if we want a balanced relationship with our child we have to give them five positive interactions for every negative interaction.

Let’s see how this would play out in a day. Say you wake up and you already dread the day. Whether it is because you will be with the kids all day without any breaks, or you had a fight with a family member, or you are furious about how a friend treated you in front of others yesterday. The reason, for the sake of this post, is not important. What’s important is to note that your interactions with your child are now coming from a place of negativity and children are brilliant at picking up the types of energy that are being projected from individuals, especially from parents.

So, you avoid eye contact with your child, you act impatient, you have NO tolerance for their bickering and start to raise your voice at them. Before you know it, there have been five negative interactions. Your child, even if not telling you verbally, now feels depleted and empty and by law of nature starts acting negatively as well. Partly because of the mirror neurons in the brain, which mimic the behaviors around us, partly because now his or her cup is empty and therefore has nothing to give back to you, and partly because he or she loses motivation to even try.

So, I always like to say that, until our children are fully grown adults and have fully developed brains, we are the adults in the relationship and we have to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions first before we make demands from our children.

Here are some ways we can help ourselves move more and more away from negativity to positivity in our interactions with our children.

  1. Take inventory of the positivity-negativity ratio in your interactions.
    You can’t change what you don’t know. Watch, hear, and analyze yourself for a week and be a fair judge. See where you stand. Do your negative interactions overpower your positive interactions or vice versa? You can be your own judge.
  2. Notice negativity in the moment.
    Once you start noticing yourself IN the moment communicating in a negative way with your child, you can be assured that that is the start of change, insha Allah. The first step to change is taking notice of something. Once you have “caught” yourself interacting negatively, now you can make a conscious and intentional effort to refill your child’s cup with positivity (remember, for every negative, 5 positives?). This might sound like a daunting task, but I can assure you it is MUCH simpler than most think. You can bring balance back to the relationship insha Allah. Some ideas are: playing with your child, showing empathy, performing an act of kindness, giving him/her a hug, using encouragement, a simple touch on the back, saying thank you for positive behavior, and SO much more. I can assure you that if you intentionally start looking for ideas on positivity you will have an endless list.
  3. Notice yourself slowly moving to more and more positivity in your day.
    It’s easy to overlook changes that happen, so it’s very important that you record your successes somewhere. Whether on an app on your phone or in a journal.
    And slowly you will notice yourself becoming better and better at communicating positively with your children. The brain is like a muscle, the more you train it in an area, the better it gets at that. And the brain also LOVES progress. So if you show your brain through recording your progress that it improved in an area, it wants more of it and feels motivated.

Parenting is hard work. But we can work hard and feel burnt out and lost, or we can work hard and smart and feel motivated and empowered. Working towards more positivity in our interactions will do just that: allow you to feel motivated and empowered. And subhan Allah, as a bonus, you will see the positive changes in your children as well and in the atmosphere in our home. Insha Allah!