When I was a little girl, if something needed to get done, I did it. Usually this centered around changes to my room. I liked taking ownership of my room and my parents didn’t seem to mind. Although, I’m not sure how they could have been so busy that they didn’t notice their little girl walking upstairs with a hose so she could siphon the water from her water bed and out the bathroom window, but whatever.
Disclaimer: waterbeds were very popular in the 80s.
I’ve noticed that my daughter, Anson (6), is starting to really enjoy her room–she has a new desk for homework, a secret cubby to keep important things safe from her sisters, she appreciates the utility of having a door so she can communicate important information to family members, and she has artwork and pictures hanging on her wall.
The other day she decided that some of the wall art in our hallway would be better suited hanging on her wall. Unbeknownst to me, she made the switch. I was proud. I told her that I really liked what she did with the pictures. She seemed a little surprised (maybe she thought she’d be in trouble?), but then gave me an eager smile.
Before bed that night, she looked at me and said:
Mommy, I really like it when you compliment me when I change my room around.
This was an ah-ha moment for me. I realized that how I say things matters. Now, instead of always telling her “awesome!” or “that’s so great!” or “good job!” I say things like:
I notice that you’ve been putting your dishes in the dishwasher lately. Thank you. It really is such a great help.
Hey, thanks for always putting your shoes by the door.
You’ve been getting yourself dressed in the morning. What a great new habit! It makes your mornings easier, doesn’t it?
I can tell you’ve been working hard to keep track of your things. Well done.
Anson seems more confident in her movements around the house, and by being specific about the things I notice her doing (and want her to keep doing), she’s starting to figure out what our family expectations of her are and how life inside these walls is supposed to work.
Actually, I think we’re all starting to figure things out a little more.
How do you encourage the positive behaviors you see in your kids?