Here are some of my favorite quotes from Chapter 8. Only two more chapters to go!
This was a really important chapter to read. It is the one that had the most concrete advice about what to say and do with your children if you want them to feel loved unconditionally.
“The first step is simply to be mindful of the whole issue of unconditional parenting. The more we’re thinking along these lines, reflecting on whether the things we do and say to our kids could reasonably be interpreted as conditional affection (and if so, why), the more likely we are to change what we do.”
“Second, we need to get into the habit of asking ourselves a very specific question; “If that comment I just made to my child had been made to me-or if what I just did had been done to me-would I feel unconditionally loved?”
“Even when we disapprove of what they’ve done and we want them to know it, our reactions should take account of the big picture-specifically, the imperative to make sure they feel loved, and lovable.”
Limit the Number of Your Criticisms:
“If kids feel we’re impossible to please, they’ll just stop trying”.
“But the main point is that too much criticism and disapproval may lead a child to feel unworthy.”
Limit the Scope of Each Criticism:
“Focus on what’s wrong with the specific action (Your voice sounded really unkind just now when you were talking to your sister) rather than implying that there is something wrong with the child (“You’re so mean to people!”)
Limit the Intensity of Each Criticism:
“Be aware of not only what you are saying but only your body language, your facial expression, your tone of voice. Any of these communicate more disapproval, and less unconditional love, than you intended.”
Look for Alternatives to Criticism:
“Explicit negative evaluations may not be necessary if we simply say what we see (“Jeremy looked kind of sad after you said that to him”) and ask questions (“The next time you are feeling frustrated, what do you think you could do instead of pushing?)
“It may sound obvious, but we sometimes seem to forget that, even when kids do rotten things, our goal should not be to make them feel bad, not to stamp out a particular behavior out of existence. Rather, what we want is to influence our the way they think and feel, to help them become people who wouldn’t want to act cruelly. And, of course, our other goal is to avoid injuring our relationship with them in the process.”