Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Recently, my son, Aiden has been coming home and analysing our every move, decision, thought or action and classifying it under a thumbs up: good choices, or thumbs down: bad choices. The other day, his little sister, Everly, had thrown up a tiny bit after her lunch and Aiden pulled me aside and said in a disapproving voice, “Mama, throwing up is a bad choice.” I stifled the giggle as I saw the seriousness in his face and replied, “Yes, sweetheart, throwing up is definitely a bad choice!” #hangovers #amiright
Throughout the week, he continued to label everything as a good or bad choice with the flick of his thumb. Drawing on the dining table? Bad choice. Taking 9384792837 minutes to finish your dinner? Bad choice. Pretending to be Captain America and knocking down bad guys aka your friends in the playground? Bad choice. I noticed that there were a lot more thumbs down than there were thumbs up. And without really realising it, I had a lot more to say about things he was doing wrong than acknowledging all the great things he was doing right.
To be honest, in my mind, I always thought I was the cheerleader type of mum, offering praise and encouragement whenever it was due. However, after a week of assessing all the thumbs up and thumbs down choices, there was a lot of room for improvement on my end in the cheerleading department. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a time and place for when our kiddos need to be in check. However, speaking words of truth and calling out the best parts of our kids brings out so much life in them. And being overly critical or speaking negatively does the complete opposite.
Instead of focusing on all the thumbs down, bad choices, I found that commenting on who I know he is more often, brought about positive behaviour and confidence instead. And through my own learning process and being more aware of my words, I found that Aiden was giving his thumbs up approval a lot more to people around him. Everly didn’t throw up after her snack? Thumbs up!
Every day we make choices both consciously and unconsciously. From the non-important ones like what to eat for breakfast to should I wear white pants and not bring an umbrella on a 90% chance of thunderstorm kind of day (I love living on the edge, people!). To more important ones like where should I send my kids to school? Do I bring up an uncomfortable topic with a loved one at the risk of them feeling hurt?
If our words and choices are motivated from love, for the betterment of the other person in hopes to help them improve or lift up their spirits, then thumbs up good choices is what we should consciously make each day.
For more parenting tips and advice from editor Kat, check out her favourite things to do in Hong Kong from the March edition of Keeping Up With Kat.