catch them doing the right thing

April monthly review – catch them doing the right thing

Each month I review my progress (or lack of!) towards my personal goals for 2014. You can see my full goal list in this post here – Goal Setting For 2014 And Creating My Decision Making Framework. The monthly review will look at my key learnings for the month and each quarter I write a full review of my progress. This month the focus is on my goal to increase family harmony.


The below was taken from my last review and was my assessment on how I was tracking with one of the sub goals which I hope will increase harmony in the family:

Maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments (lead by example). Inconsistent achievement. There was a direct correlation between lack of sleep and failing to meet this ratio. I am going to be having this goal as my lead goal for quarter two 2014.

I focused a lot on hitting this ratio and was disappointed with my ability to really be consistent with it, especially with our eldest child. April ran at a much better pace and I did obtain a lot more sleep, so those issues could be ruled out as obstacles.

Then one day as I jumped to a massive conclusion about what our eldest child was doing, I realised instantly what my problem was. As he so rightly pointed out to me:

You expect me to be doing the wrong thing.

I had been doing exactly that. And in my defence teenagers do push the boundaries ALL.OF.THE.TIME! I think I had become so used to the constant push that I wasn’t expecting much else.

One of my favourite parenting books He’ll be Ok: Growing gorgeous boys into good men” by Celia Lashlie has some great advice on setting boundaries for adolescent boys:

Year 7 – As well as being firm and brightly coloured, the boundary needs one more thing: we have to run a small electric current through it. This is just an extra precaution. As he walks the boundary for the first time, he’ll touch it to check out how it feels, how real it is, and as part of his learning he needs to feel the light tingle in his fingers. It’s this that tells him the boundary is real, that the people in his life are watching, that they do care and are genuine in their desire to keep him safe.

Year 9 – It will look exactly the same as it did for Years 7 and 8, but now, instead of a small electric current, we need to run the national grid through the boundary. He can feel his strength growing, he thinks he has the world sorted, he considers he is master of his own destiny and, left to his own devices, he will go over the boundary and out into the world that waits beyond, a world he’s actually not ready for.

Year 10 – Although he doesn’t wander across to the boundary as much any more and generally makes no attempt to get over it, the national grid should be kept running and at the same wattage. ITs role at this point is not to keep him in; it’s to reassure him…….And some boys may still make the occasional dash for the boundary in moments of madness so for them the national grid has not yet outlived its usefulness or applicability.

It was great to go back and read this, as I do think he now falls into the last category, but I had been seeing him sitting more in the middle category.

When I am expecting him to be pushing the boundaries all the time or just doing the wrong thing, it is very hard to keep a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments. This doesn’t mean I turn off the grid and let him get away with inconsiderate behaviour, but it does mean that I need to stop looking for him to be doing the wrong thing.

I need to deliberately catch him doing the right thing and say something positive about it. Not praise or fluffy remarks, because he is switched on and will see straight through them, but genuinely acknowledge when he does the right thing, helps out without complaining, has a good study session and the like and let him know I am aware of this.

This then gives me a much better foundation to deliver discipline when I need to. I won’t seem like such a nag and he won’t be able to say “what about all the good things I do”. I will have already acknowledged them.

This goes for everyone in the family too. Sometimes you see what you want to see. If I am looking for things to be wrong, that is what I will see. By changing my focus and trying to catch them doing the right thing, it brings a whole different mind set.

I am not perfect at this, but I am working on it and it is making a difference to the harmony of the home.

What have you learnt about parenting this month?