Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Positive reinforcement

At a play date the other day, one of the moms said, "We've been focusing on the negative." By this she meant she was telling her daughter what not to do and forgetting to praise the behaviors she wanted. I've known the family for some time, and this is mom is usually spot-on when it comes to positive reinforcement. I've often wished I was as upbeat a parent.

It happens to us all: the pile of chores and responsibilities stack precariously high as we try to keep it all balanced. I can't think of anyone who likes the stress associated with being pulled in so many directions. Still, we have priorities for a reason. Family, close friends and certain bosses take precedence over the multitude of tasks and people yammering for our attention. Right? OK, so not always. Maybe that's the problem.

Then how do I keep the people I love front and center on my list? How do you manage to find the time and patience for those closest to you?

Here are some coping methods to help you handle the stress:

1. Journal. This allows you to put those nebulous thoughts into words, which should help crystallize your emotions. For some, this helps to calm both the mind and body.
2. Take a walk. If you have kids at home, get them to come with you. Thirty minutes of exercise and talking about each other's activities can have a major calming effect. Plus, it's bonding time.
3. Take time out of your busy schedule to do something nice for someone you love. Leave your significant other a note telling him or her just how much they mean to you. Cut your child's PB&J sandwich into a heart. It doesn't have to be anything expensive; showing you care is as simple as a hug.

How do you keep your family front-and-center in your life?

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