Getting the ratio right with your kids

Palmer here! 

He’s got him wide open!!! Fans are on their feet!! He launches it down the field, the clock hits zero! HE CAUGHT IT!!!! They won the super bowl!!!! 🎉 I won’t say who I’m rooting for but I am pumped for the game today. 🏈

If you aren’t a football fan don’t worry, this message isn’t just about football. I saw an infographic that caught my attention. It said that of the top 100 most watched programs, football accounted for 93 of them! I think the other 7 were things like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Academy Awards (which I now know means the Oscars), and “Political Programming”. 93…that just feels mind blowing given how many different types of content there are. 

Where that thought led me was this: if you rank the different types of interactions you have with your kids, which types would make it into the top 5? Are your interactions about your kids’ friendships, passions, joy points, heartbreaks, anxieties and topics that help create emotional connection between the two of you? Or are they more about chores, misbehaving, school, and areas in their lives where they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing something… AKA “shoulding 💩on them,” which creates distance? 

For the same reason I don’t think it’s bad to have football be one of the main types of viewed programing on TV, I don’t think it’s “bad” to talk about chores, misbehaving, school, and working to be better; however, it’s important to have balance. It is natural for parents to focus on those things that seem like problems because they want to help fix them. But something I have seen be shockingly apparent across many studies and families I’ve worked with is that families who  focus not just on correcting but also on connecting, supporting, and creating a trusted relationship with their kids are so much more helpful with those “problem” areas. 

If parents prioritize the correcting aspect of parenting their kids, it’s like throwing seeds onto a dry and desolate field. The seeds (your advice and wisdom) might be AMAZING but if they aren’t planted into healthy, well fertilized soil they won’t grow the way you may have hoped. The seeds are important but it’s even more important to make sure that the soil is well tended to. After you plant the seeds, continuing to tend the soil with meaningful conversations and connecting interactions may lead those plants to grow bigger than you would have even imagined. 

So before you get started on making buffalo chicken dip for the big game, I hope you will remember two things: 

  1. Parenting isn’t a perfect science but we do know that kids do better when they are given not just good advice but also many opportunities for connection and open hearted relationships with their parents. 
  2. If you rank your top 5 types of interactions and there seems to be too much correcting and not enough connecting, I encourage you to work on getting to a ratio of at least 5 positive for every 1 negative interaction. Here are three tips to get started:

  • First 15. Commit to yourself that in the first 15 minutes after you come together in the afternoon or evening, you will focus on smiling, looking them in the eyes, listening, and only saying positive things. Nothing negative in the first 15!
  • Connect before you correct. Respond to what they say or do with empathy. Assume that if they could do better, they would… and when they can, they will. Then, if correction is necessary, give yourself time to think, be calm, and create a plan based on learning, not suffering or shaming.
  • For the next week, keep a log of how many negative and how many positive things you say to your kid.

It can be so valuable to have an accountability partner when working on changing a behavior. Maybe you can find one and keep track of your ratio. Or you can write to us and tell us how you are trending. We are all works in progress and my mom and I would love to hear where you are growing as a parent and what has been challenging you. Honestly, we love to hear from you and cheer you on! 


Palmer and Kerry

author avatar
Palmer Skudneski
Share the Post:

Related Posts