While my request was to NOT think of a camel, most of you did think of a camel in varying degrees of detail. The point being that human mind does not pick up on negative descriptors such as “don’t” or “isn’t” to the same degree as the subject or object of a sentence. The same thing happens when talk to your kids. Tell your six year old ballplayer, “Don’t strike out!” and you've put the thought of striking out in his head. Better to say “Keep your eye on the ball!” a much more positive and helpful suggestion.
This example was to show how negativity can sneak its way into our conversation. But negativity can also be as obvious as...well, ugly on a camel (see photo) . So what can we do to avoid negativity in the home?
Buddha said "what you think, you become". The Swami Vivekananda was quoted as saying "We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think".
We are what we think about! Too often, what we think about is what we hear all day. Your children are exposed to negativity quite a bit these days and the least you can do as a parent is to not add to the negativism they will face in the world.
Be Aware and Beware of the Negativity
Before I get into more specifics for the home, here are some examples of how we react to the negativity that's continuously reported in the hyper-present media.
- Parents become over-protective of their children due in part to the frequent news of child-abductions. No doubt there are children that have been saved by this over-protectiveness, but far more have been restricted from fun adventures and stimulating experiences like those I had as a child playing on my own and with friends. The dangers then were likely the same, and if it was safer in my day, it is only because fewer people have abducting children introduced into their thinking.
- Every day you hear about the persistent threat of terrorism, then one day a strange looking man walks into your church. The service is almost over yet he walks in late, with a briefcase…and we wonder, if not worry. Fleeting thoughts of danger comes to one's mind about the man and his briefcase. It is true that terrorism is more common in today's world, but the likelihood of you being injured by terrorists is less than your chance of winning the lottery.
- Police are held to a higher standard, and when we see them make a mistake or act in a roughish manner, we assume more of them are inept or acting illegally than truly are. Their acts to protect and serve us are taken for granted and often forgotten.
Minimize Negativity in Your Home
In the home, parents are the equivalent of the media. If you focus on the negative, so will your children. If you tell them they are bad, they will come to believe you. If you tell them over and over that they are lazy, they will accept that they are lazy and may become so in reality.
I’ve read in various articles on language that positive statements must outnumber negative statements three or five to one, otherwise the conversation will be harmful to the person you are talking to. There is always a better way of saying something if you care enough about the person to whom you are speaking.
- Instead of saying “How can you be so stupid!” say, “Can you explain to me why that happened?”
- Instead of saying “You look terrible in that dress!” say, “I think your blue dress would look even better!”
- Instead of saying “I am so disappointed in you!” say, “I know you can do better than that.”
An article in Psychology Today gives this advice: "choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative, and as recent research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words like love, peace, and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower your physical and emotional stress. You’ll feel better, you’ll live longer, and you’ll build deeper and more trusting relationships with others—at home and at work."
Translated—THINK before you speak, especially when it involves correcting your kids. Try to be positive even when the situation is not. You and those you are speaking to will come out ahead.
At the extreme end of a negative environment, where excessive shouting and even violence can occur, children can be traumatized. Being exposed to such behavior disrupts children’s brain development and impairs their later health and well-being. This must never happen! Be honest with yourself and get help quickly if this happens too often.
Lastly, humor has a way of relaxing any atmosphere. Be humorous, or at least lighthearted, as often as the situation allows. With that said;
What do you name a camel with NO humps?
Get it? :)