Group of Children


There are times when I get a real kick out of the internet. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I went looking for an old newspaper comic strip that someone had cut out for me while we were working on a project. When I was getting ready for a party that celebrated his work, a few minutes on the information super highway allowed me to find the comic from 1995 and order a framed copy that was delivered to my door in plenty of time for the trip. Here is a link to the comic strip: this captured the many rambling distractions we both brought to the conversation.

The comic strip also gets at the idea that to be effective, we must manage other’s frustrating behavior and our own feelings of frustration. Maybe Alice did not need the old programmer anymore but must of us need and want those close to us. Effectively changing a child’s frustrating behavior often depends on replacing the old behavior with new. Positive Parenting is about increasing prosocial behavior. People respond much better to being told what to do improve things than being told what to avoid doing to avoid making someone mad.

When I ran the ACT_Raising Safe Kids, everyone wanted more information about Positive Parenting. I am encouraged to see the national efforts to support families while they take on this challenge. The Center for Disease Control has information sheets with ideas for positive parenting at different ages. The developmental focus fits with the RSK program. I would love to hear from the readers on your creative ways to meet the tasks on these sheets.

Here is a challenge for the parents of school-age kids. Kids need words and practice in order to talk about their feelings and to solve problems. This includes the good feelings that we want to keep having. When our moods drop, we start remembering, noticing, imagining all the things that have gone wrong, disappointed us, hurt us, and bored us. Kids are the same. Parents also often notice kids emotions when kids are down, worried, or frustrated. If we want to help kids feel happier then, we should pay attention to what makes them happy and help them to do the same for themselves. Emotions have words and they have jobs. When we are sad, we show it to get support and comfort. When a child is scared he shows it to get help. A happy child shares what made him happy, in order to feel happier. Sharing joy seems to increase it. Don’t miss it.

Try this with your child. Make a poster of all the feelings she wants to have, all the feelings she has when she is doing things she wants to do a lot of the time, and all the feelings she has when she does not want anything to change. Help her to notice that these feelings are happening and that these feelings matter to you. Show your children that what they are doing changes the way that that the feel and noticing good things feels better than noticing bad.

Adults too can manage bad moods by remembering what they were doing that felt good; and then, go do that thing again — even if they don’t feel like it. The truth is that doing that thing that used to feel good will probably feel a lot better than the way you felt before when you were doing nothing.

Make sure you don’t miss these precious moments of childhood.