01 May 2011
Good Job, OK?
This post is part of The Peaceful Housewife's Natural Parenting Blog Party.
Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama recently wrote two fabulous posts. Dionna discussed 7 Alternatives to Telling Your Child "Good Job!" and Jennifer talked about The OK Phenomena, two very interesting issues in the world of parenting. I loved each post because they gave fantastic alternatives and explanations as to why these are bad habits to fall into and difficult to overcome. As I read both of these posts, I thought to myself, "Self, I'm glad I don't do these things. Looks like I'm on the right track." Unfortunately, something happened that I did not intend (I sound like I'm in Lord of the Rings here, but let's go with it).
The same way that psychology students suddenly have every mental disorder they study, I started unintentionally saying "OK?" at the end of my sentences and "Good job!" where I never have before! How could something like this happen to me, a person who is normally so conscious of what she says and how she says it, especially to her children? I don't read posts about not spanking children and then subsequently spank them; I don't read articles about how bad high fructose corn syrup is and then give it to my children, so why this? What made these two articles different?
First I must say that I have great respect both for Dionna (who does a million things and still manages to be a mother) and Jennifer (who is so sweet and insightful she is sure to make anyone feel good) and I consistently enjoy their thoughts on each of their respective pages. I completely absolve them of all responsibility; my actions are my own.
I think that when I read these articles, I suddenly became so conscious of the words they mentioned that they kept floating to the surface in my brain when I was speaking. I was trying so hard not to say them that they were all I could say. Well obviously I wasn't going to entertain this manner of speaking when it naturally opposed how I normally try to speak, so I needed to make some quick changes before these words became part of my new vocabulary.
First, I consciously cleared my mind every time I wanted to say, "Good job!" or "OK?" I also do this in place of saying, "No!" too hastily (and will post about all that eventually) and I find it to be fairly effective for myself. Purposely pausing before saying anything can really make a difference.
I've also started to twist the words around or use a substitute word. Sometimes when I want to say, "OK?" I say, "Understand?" instead. While that may not be any better, it has helped me to not make ending every statement with a question as if I don't know what I'm talking about. When I say, "Understand?" it falls clumsily out of my mouth and makes me not want to say anything.
Even though Dionna gives a list of what to say or not say instead of "Good job!", I've started to come up with my own creative ways of saying something positive in place of the generic. Sure, sometimes I might just say, "Yay!" or "That was great!", but I also tell whoever it is that that was a really nice thing to do, it made so and so very happy. I'll also say things like, "Look what you did!" in a way to help initiate pride in my child.
I will never stop trying to be a better parent. That means I will never stop reading articles, posts or comments that will help me change positively. I know that sometimes I may take a step or two back, but as long as I keep thinking creatively and focus on the action I am trying to change, I can achieve anything.