The 80/20 Rule is an easy parenting tool that will not only change your life, but will also change your child’s entire life for the better.
A magic ratio that lays the foundation for an excellent relationship between you and your child, the 80/20 Rule builds and maintains all of your parenting power. Simply put, the 80/20 Rule is the ratio that creates a solid-enough bond between child and parent so that the child will not only want to cooperate and please and avoid disappointing the parent, but he or she will also want to be like the parent—accepting the values and lessons the parent wishes to impart.
Children who aren’t solidly attached to their parents, and particularly those who don’t like their parents, no longer desire to cooperate with them, no longer care to please or displease them, no longer accept their values and lessons. This group may, in fact, reject what their parents have to offer and may actively work to be nothing like their parents. When older teens and adult children fail to form a strong attachment to their parents they may withdraw from the relationship altogether. There are many adults who have virtually no relationship with parents they dislike. For parents, this represents a loss for their child and thus a likely loss of their grandchildren.
Show What’s in Your Heart
How does a child come to dislike his or her parents? Most parents, after all, love their children. The problem is that the love parents feel in their hearts isn’t conveyed minute by minute during a parenting hour. How much love do you convey in the morning rush hour to drive the kids to school? Are you a fountain flowing with positive, loving attention from seven to eight in the morning?
How about during the dinner hour or the homework hour or the bath and bedtime hour? If a video camera recorded your every facial expression, movement, and spoken words during each of those parenting hours, and the film was later analyzed minute by minute to determine whether or not your communication to your child was positive, what would be the ratio?
When most parental communication consists of giving instructions, corrections, reprimands, threats, and punishments, a child may feel he unloved. Once the child feels that way, he starts to dislike his parent. Then the child steps back from the parent, costing the parent their power of positive influence.
Become a Conscious Communicator
The 80/20 Rule prevents the disintegration of the parent-child relationship. It ensures that you will have a warm, loving relationship with your child and that you will consequently maintain the parenting power required in order effectively guide and raise your child. The 80/20 Rule is the ratio of good-feeling (GF) communications to not-so-good-feeling (NSGF) communications from parent to child. GF communications feel good to the child. When a parent says, “Would you like some candy?” this will most likely be a GF communication to his or her child. On the other hand, when a parent says, “If you don’t stop teasing your brother you’ll have to leave the room,” this will most likely be a NSGF communication from the child’s point of view.
You’ll need to offer 8 out of 10 (4 to 1) good-feeling communications in order to create and maintain a positive lifelong bond with your youngster. Smiles, affectionate touch, positive feedback, joking, offering treats and favorite foods, greetings, affectionate names, and any other warm, positive types of communication feel good to kids. NSGF communications include things like instructions, criticism, correction, lectures, any sign of irritation or anger, lack of attention, threats, punishment, and even the parent’s own bad mood or arguments with other people overheard by the child.
Try taping yourself tomorrow morning to track your voice, sentence by sentence. Have four good-feeling sentences for every one not-so-good feeling sentence. If your kids are teenagers, that ratio should be 90/10. And if you want to try it out on your spouse for an improved marriage make it 95/5. Keep it up the rest of your life and you’ll be delighted with the results of your efforts.
© Copyright 2009 by Sarah Chana Radcliffe, MEd, CPsych, therapist in North York, Ontario. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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