It’s sooo easy to focus on the negative behaviors of our children. When behavior needs correcting, we feel we can’t let it go or else the problem will get worse. When our children are doing things right in our eyes, however, it can feel more optional as to whether or not we acknowledge it. After all, if it’s not broken, we don’t need to fix it!

If we think about it though, no one wants to be in a relationship where we only hear about what we are doing wrong. Furthermore, research shows that children are much more amenable to behavior change when it is requested in the context of a positive and supportive relationship.

Steven Covey, author of the Seven Habits series came up with the idea of the emotional bank account. This is a great metaphor for parents because it doesn’t require perfection, but it does promote intentional effort toward building a positive and supportive relationship. The idea is that, just like a bank account, if we make more withdrawals than deposits in a child’s emotional bank account we will overextend that relationship. Examples of Withdrawals and Deposits:


  • Checking your phone when your child is speaking to you
  • Nagging
  • Yelling or screaming at your child
  • Criticizing them
  • Being sarcastic
  • Talking about them negatively to others
  • Interrupting them when they are speaking to you


  • Apologize when you make a mistake
  • Really listen- no interrupting or looking at your phone
  • Spend time with them- play a game or cook with them
  • Greet them as they come home
  • Notice what they are doing
  • Attend their activities
  • Be kind and patient
  • When children make a mistake, be compassionate and help them to solve their own problem
  • Laugh with them
  • Spend one on one time with them
  • Keep your promises
  • Relationships take time and lots of love.

Deep Dive:

Source of examples:

Click to access handout5.pdf

Posted by:okptacultivate

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