All Parents Make Mistakes
It’s pretty easy screw up parenting. The fact is, parenting is real life. We tell kids (who are facing new experiences daily) that mistakes are a part of learning. They are for parents too.
Sadly, parents are often really hard on themselves when mistakes are made. One or our most-used tools for real life parenting is AWARENESS– keeping our eyes open for opportunities to learn from our mistakes. When they happen, we can recognize that something isn’t working and ask for help.
Knowing that mistakes will happen and that we will make poor choices is a very important, real life part of the parenting puzzle. One of the tools that can act as a buffer to this fact is a suggestion made by Dr. Tim Jordan when he speaks about The Goodwill Account.
Let’s start with a question: How much good will is there between you and your kids?
Goodwill is one of the foundations of good relationships, especially that between you and your children. It is a starting point, from which all daily interactions flow.
Dr. Jordan carves the metaphor using the idea of a bank account. We fill up an account by making regular deposits and then withdraw from the account as necessary until we empty the account.
With a goodwill account, we can make regular deposits any time we are interacting with our children. When the account carries a strong balance, our children feel safer, closer, more trusting. As withdrawals are made, it can lead to tension, a feeling of being less safe and increased disrespect, with children feeling unheard and less worthy.
Withdrawals happen when we hit small bumps along our “real life” parenting road: things don’t go according to plan, someone spills something, we have to be on the phone slightly longer than expected. The smaller the bump, the smaller the withdrawal; one bump does not empty the whole account. Knowing that there will be bumps all the time (because we are all learning how to do this parenting thing), we need to keep the account topped up. A full Goodwill Account is the best preventative medicine when negative stuff happens. It keeps everyone in the family feeling more connected, calm and helps us all to deal with real life as it happens.
We encourage you to make a conscious effort every day to deposit to your family’s Goodwill account – it is an easy habit with great benefits and all family members can contribute. Talk about it with your family – your kids will be able to suggest lots of ways to deposit to the Goodwill Account.
• Give full attention when listening – Stop, Look and Listen
• Use reflective listening :so you would like… or so you are feeling… and you would like me to …
• Talk to our kids at their level
• Acknowledge feelings rather than trying to fix them
• Let our kids make their own decisions
• Let our kids teach us something
• Apologize when we do something wrong
• Connect with our kids (time, hug, language, activity, a special look or smile)
• Helping another family member (share a strength)
• Noticing a strength in someone else – ask for help with our weaknesses
• Sharing a joke or story
• Showing respect