A while back, we asked dads to send in their ideas for creative ways to show love to their children. We received some great ones, and one of our favorites is a bit unusual: A dad named Jim shows love to his kids by yelling at them!
When Jim became a dad, someone explained that kids often misbehave because they want attention, and parents often use their strongest emotions and their loudest words when they’re angry — which doesn’t solve the problem at hand and can actually reinforce the kids’ bad behavior.
So Jim takes the concept to the opposite extreme. When one of his kids brings home a good report card or does something nice for someone else, he will often yell at the top of his lungs, “Good job!” or, “That’s fantastic!” As you might imagine, it sometimes shocks the kids, but when they realize what is happening — that Dad is actually affirming and appreciating them — they definitely feel the love.
Would something like that work for you?
Years ago, Harvard professor William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” From infancy right through old age, in our own ways we’re all asking the same questions: “Does anyone love me?” “Am I special to someone?” “Am I appreciated?” It’s a shame that so many children grow up without getting affirmative answers to those questions.
Please remember that your words have great power with your children. You can bet they’ll remember many of your statements for years to come; their whole outlook on life could be shaped — for better or for worse — by something you say. And even in everyday life, your children will respond much better to positive words than they will to criticism, preaching at them, or nagging them to do what you want.
Instead, whenever possible, use words intentionally to bless and to build up, whether you yell those positive words like Jim, whisper them, or simply speak them as a normal part of the day.
- Go home and yell at your child — but make it something positive.
- Ask your family members, “Do I yell at you sometimes?” “How does it make you feel?”
- Strive to give your wife and children at least one sincere compliment every day. It will require you to think, plan, observe, notice, and initiate.
- For every negative or corrective comment you make to family members, give them six or seven positive, affirming words of praise and blessing.
- When you need to correct your child, find a way to do it without shaming or belittling him. Don’t say anything until you can keep your voice down and maintain a calm tone.
- Instead of reminding your child about what she did wrong or what she shouldn’t do, try telling her what you want her to do. Instead of “Stop fighting with your brother,” try, “What’s a solution that both of you can live with?”
- Keep up the good work!