Five Positives for Every Negative

Ever play Hi-Ho Cherry-O? It’s the game where you try to pick cherries off the cherry tree, and as you do this, you fill up a little bucket that sits nicely within the cardboard box. It’s a counting game, and there is a spinner that determines how many cherries you get to pick when it’s your turn. Unfortunately, while it teaches many important skills for children, the setup can be tricky for anyone with adult fingers. When placing the cherries on the appropriate trees, they tend to slip easily out of their assigned cardboard holes. This happens, and they roll all willy-nilly across the board. All of this all can be very frustrating and disruptive to the game.

Leave it to a kid to figure out a very simple solution. The cherries have stems, which is what typically leads to tipping out of their assigned slots. You hold the stem and set the cherry down in either the bucket or the tree. Unless you are a smart four-year-old, in which case you insert the stem into the hole, thereby anchoring said cherry into position and preventing any future slippage.

The lesson here is that we don’t always know more than, or even as much as, our children. They too come equipped with insight, creativity, and intelligence that can lead to outstanding solutions during times of strife.

And since they are social creatures, kids love sharing their ideas and getting reinforcement from all of us, the adults in their lives.

Unfortunately, many kids spend much of their time being told what they should not do, and not hearing as much about all the wonderful things they actually do right. Think about this the next time you are ready to start a lecture because there is a wet towel on the floor again; experts say kids should hear at least five positives for every negative. This means that for each single time you criticize, there should be at least five times you offer praise for their behaviors.

This is a lot of positive reinforcement, true, but kids who do not get this from the adults in their lives tend to end up keeping all those creative ideas to themselves. They become too afraid of being criticized, and stop taking risks. So once again: five positives for every negative. Try this at home, and you just may hear some amazing creative ideas similar to the above mentioned cherry scenario.

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