Every parent's security blanket & instruction manual
Raising a family is so daily that we feel like a hamster on a treadmill going nowhere. Sometimes our children don't seem to be maturing and our parenting struggles seem same-old same-old. The Negative/Positive List Exercise can be helpful in providing perspective on the progress that you and your child are making this year.
When I present the parenting workshop Surviving and Appreciating the Challenging Child, at the beginning of the workshop I have each parent take a sheet of paper and make a Negative/Positive List. First they list the five things that they most struggle with/ dislike in their child. Parents take about five minutes to write this list-it usually comes very easily! Then each parent turns their paper over and lists five things they most appreciate/ love about their child.
(Note: In this Exercise, the Negative List is always completed first; for most parents, once negative feelings toward their child are put onto paper, they more easily access their positive feelings. If the Exercise were reversed it could be harder to access the positive feelings first).
I then suggest that parents fold up their Negative/Positive List, tape it to a calendar at the month six months from the present, and re-read the List when they flip to it.
The feedback from parents when they see the List six months later is interesting. Most parents are surprised at their Negative List, as many of the challenges listed are no longer relevant and have been forgotten. The Positive List usually remains consistent. Parents find it very helpful to review the List and see the progress they and their child have made in six months' time. Not to say that there aren't other challenges, but parents feel gratified that things are moving in a positive direction.
The Negative/Positive List Exercise provides parents with a sense of fulfillment that can be missing in the day-to-day. This Exercise also provides hope that current parent-child struggles may themselves disappear in six months' time. Try this Negative/Positive List exercise soon with pencil and paper or with your calendar on your electronic device and store the list to read six months from now.
May this process with the Negative/Positive List provide you with both renewed perspective in six months time and also renewed encouragement to continue becoming the parent that you wish to be to your child in the coming year.
©Irene Shere, LLC