Parenting is arguably the hardest job there is. There’s no parenting guide to explain that if you encounter situation A, opt for solution B. And older parents are always willing to offer advice for new parents based on their past experiences. But perhaps the key to being successful parents can be traced back to the Magic 5:1 Ratio.
The 5:1 Ratio
The 5:1 ratio is a principle used to help couples maintain happy, successful marriages. Dr. John Gottman founded the notion that stable relationships require a ratio of at least five to one positive interactions during a conflict as compared to negative interactions.
Conflicts occur in any relationship including parents and children. Kids will push boundaries on friends, school, and curfews.
Try implementing these positive parenting interactions with your children if you aren’t already.
Showing affection to your children is a fantastic non-verbal way of saying “I love you”. Of course, telling them that you love them is the most direct way to communicate it. But in this case, actions can speak as loud as words.
Hug your children as soon as you walk through the door at the end of the day. Snuggle up on the couch with your kids when they’re watching their favorite show. Cuddle your little ones for a few extra minutes before bedtime.
Children crave parental attention. But they also tend to ramble on, sometimes about silly topics. Still, it is important to show them that you’re focused and engaged in what they have to say.
Making eye contact and nodding when your children are speaking are two ways to show that you’re focused on what they have to say. Be sure to put your cell phone away too. Nothing feigns attention like mindlessly scrolling on your phone as your children are excitedly explaining something to you about one of their favorite topics.
Admit Your Mistakes
No one is immune from making mistakes. That goes for children and parents. As much as you want your children to learn valuable lessons from the mistakes they make, one of the most important lessons they can learn is to admit when you’ve made a mistake.
Sometimes parents scold their children when they don’t have all the facts. When that’s the case, apologize to your child and admit that you were wrong. Your child will see that even mommies and daddies should say they’re sorry from time to time.
Truly Listen to Them
Children get upset at small, inconsequential stuff because they don’t have the maturity to recognize those situations for what they are. Though the problem might not register as anything more than trivial to a parent, the problem is huge in the eyes of their children. So, parents should treat it that way. When parents truly listen to their children’s problems, they’ll understand where their kids are coming from. And, how to help kids solve them.
Share your Childhood Experiences
Reprimanding your child is never a fun experience for you or them. But you can turn a negative into a positive.
Offer up your own similar experiences from when you were a kid. Showing them how that situation negatively affected you is one avenue to improve child behavior. Reinforce that you’re only trying to keep them from making the same mistake you did and suffering the consequences of their actions.
Negative Interactions to Avoid
Just as important as emphasizing positive interactions with your children is knowing what negative interactions you should avoid. Be mindful of expressing these behaviors during conflicts.
- Character criticism
- Assigning blame
- Expressing contempt
Relationships take time, commitment, and effort to make them successful. That’s true for married partners and parents and children. Implementing the 5:1 ratio can lead not only to a happy marriage but also provide a blueprint to enact positive parenting.
And a thriving relationship with your children will create a lifetime of positive interactions.