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My 5 year old always looked at the negative side of things, in the process, stressing herself and me out. But I came up with a plan to make her think positive. And it worked!
“How was your field trip?” I asked my five year old as she got in to the car after school.
“It was just okay.” She replied, lowering her tone and her head.
“Oh, what happened?” I was concerned.
“It was so hot, and I had to stand in the long line to get into the park.” Came the beaten up and whiny answer, while the other kids getting out of the school with their moms exclaimed, “Oh mommy, we fed a goat in the farm!” “I wish I had another field trip tomorrow”. “It was so exciting!”
This was not the first time I had heard my daughter respond negatively to something that otherwise was interesting to every one else involved. I was concerned. I even did some investigation behind my daughter’s back, checking with her friends if she had really enjoyed herself. Her teacher and friends conceded that Nikita had indeed had tons of fun with them.
Now my concern grew even more.
For some reason, my daughter gravitated towards negativity, also being habitually sceptical about everything. My mommy antennae got into action. After some research in libraries, podcasts, YouTube and Google, I came up with an action plan to mitigate the problem and implemented it right away.
Every night before we went to sleep, we had this beautiful mommy-daughter time, where we cuddled together, said stories and sang songs. I changed the agenda just a little.
As we snuggled up that night, I said “You know what made Amma the most happy today?” She turned to me with gleaming eyes. “It was my friend’s b’day and we surprised her with a cake!” She chuckled as I told her how we tricked our friend into the surprise party. I then asked her what made her the most happy.
Immediately she said “You know what made me sad today, Amma?”
“I don’t want to hear what made you sad! I want to know what made you happy today!” I was assertive while she thought for a long time and slowly said, “Teacher gave me 5 stars in my math paper.”
“Yayyy! Congrats! I can’t wait to see the stars!” I gave her a hi-fi and she was radiant.
So now everyday before going to sleep we religiously shared two things with each other.
1. Three things that made me happy today.
2. Three things that happened today that I am grateful for.
We began to look forward to our ‘Sharing Secrets’ moment of the day as we revealed our loveliest moments to each other.
I began to notice a difference in my Nikki’s demeanour as early as in a week, as she tried hard to remember all the nice things to share with me in our SS moment. She slowly forgot to remember what made her sad.
I was almost there, but Nikita had one more thing she just had to work on.
When she played with her best friend, who is our next door neighbour, Nikki would come to me complaining about the silliest of the things. I knew it was best to leave the friends alone to sort it amongst themselves, but at times I felt that I needed to pitch in. After all, I was the mamma! So this is what I did.
3. For every complaint Nikki had about her best friend, I made her say three things she loved about her friend, or a time when her friend helped her.
I made her friend also do the same when she came to me with complaints about my daughter.
Since, now, there was a competition, both were earnest and tried to come up with the best points about each other. These were so cute and sincere that most times the fighting kids went back to playing hugging and kissing.
I did the things above consistently for a month, and was pleasantly surprised with the results! My five year old learned to express the good things that happened over the day. She also learned to focus on the positive qualities of her friends and ignore their interim fights.
And the side effect of my experiment: I too began to think hard to collect material for our SS moments, and ended up training my brain to ignore the negativity around me!
And thus emerged a happy and positive mamma and daughter.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
Manju Nambiar hails from the southern state of Kerala, India. A computer engineer by profession, she now works in one of the leading firms in San Jose, California where she lives with her husband and read more...
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