IN our daily lives, we will inadvertently cross paths with many types of people. Some will be good; others may be bad; some will be positive, while others not so. I came across this anonymous quote on the Internet recently, which said: “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” I couldn’t agree more.

As parents, we can also become good, bad, positive and negative, sometimes within a short period of one another. Life’s pressures and expectations have a funny way of messing up our peaceful day. Coupled with screaming children and messy homes, things can quickly turn sour.

This is the point when the tough gets going. Positive people manage to stay calm amidst the storm. They can see the positive side despite the gloomy outlook. This is when they can make the right decisions by making the best of what’s available. It’s worth noting that negative people see the ugly side of beauty. Meanwhile, positive people find beauty in an ugly situation.

Bringing this into the parenting context, how can we become a more positive parent? It’s not impossible but neither is it easy. It requires steely determination and even stronger discipline. But the results will be worth it. Researchers have shown that positive people don’t only enjoy a brighter outlook in life, they’re also healthier and less stressed. Isn’t that what we need when dealing with our children?

PROBLEMS OR POTENTIALS

Let’s review how we treat our children. Do we see problems or do we see potentials? When they misbehave, do we see naughty children or creative ones?

I recall an experience I had with my youngest child. It was a few weeks before Hari Raya and I had just paid someone to repaint the interior of our home. Barely a few days later, I came home to see scribbles on the walls. I had a choice: To scold him for messing up the newly-painted wall, or try to see the message behind the scribbles.

Thank God I chose the latter. When I asked him about the drawing, he said he drew his plans for Hari Raya. He wanted to visit grandma and relatives, enjoy some food and the balik kampung trip. I was astonished by his detailed plan, which was conveyed through the drawing. Imagine if I’d opted to view it negatively. I’d probably have lost control of my emotions and the opportunity to see an innocent child trying to be a part of his family’s plans.

I would probably have hurt his feelings too. When asked why he drew the plan there, he said: “The wall in my room is full!”

Children are innocent and positive creatures. Unfortunately, adults tend to jump on the negative side by focusing on problems, not solutions. Let’s be more like children and commit to be a more positive person from now on. Make it a game to look for the “positives” in any situation, regardless of how negative it is. Try it for a day, a week, a month and ultimately, for life. Our children and family will love the new us.

One year from now, I can bet those who focus on problems will still be there talking and complaining, while the rest of us would have moved on and can look back with pride on the things that we’ve achieved.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at zaid@smartparents.com.my

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