Accentuate the Positive

July 25, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Positivity can quickly go out the window when parenting a child with mental illness. We get so caught up in the negativity that we can't see the positive things about our children. We get frustrated, upset, sad, etc when we feel stuck or alone. Add to that complaints that other people give about your child. We just can't see the positive.

Accept the Negatives

My last post found me attending a meeting about my son's behavior in the prep program. Eye rolling, rude comments and inattentiveness. I was nervous because I didn't know whether or not my son would be kicked out because he couldn't follow the rules. Apparently, the director did not know about Bob's ADHD diagnosis. Neither I nor the school principal said anything about it. Later, I realized that there was no place to put it on the application. I also thought about how Bob would be judged if they knew right away about his diagnosis.

Be Honest

I spoke to the director as a parent and professional in the field. I let her know about Bob's diagnosis and recent medication change. I also gave her suggestions on how to deal with Bob's behavior. (I also offered to help her in the future with other children with special needs who were in the program.)

Focus on the Positive

Bob was there for part of the meeting and in that time, I accentuated the positives about Bob. He's a very bright kid. And I'm not saying that because he is mine. The skills test he take every year show him going off the charts. I spoke to Bob's strengths while also acknowledging that yes, he does have issues. When we finished talking with Bob and sent him on his way, the director commented that she had never seen him so humble and calm.

Why Is It So Important To See the Positive?

It is a way to motivate your child, but also yourself. When I talk to Bob about something positive that he's done, he lights up. He smiles, hugs me and tells me he loves me. Focusing on the positive allows you and your child to have a special moment away from the regular behavioral and emotional problems that your child may have.

Getting Unstuck From the Negative

In my experience working in foster care, I often found myself teaching foster parents how to catch a child doing something good. Whether it is as simple as brushing their teeth or getting a B on a test or having more good days than bad. I know that Bob will make mistakes. But, we all do. By focusing on the positive things that Bob does, I can not only boost his self-esteem, but I remind myself that he does have many good things within him. That he can do well in different ways.

photo credit: Robin Hutton via photopin

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, July 25). Accentuate the Positive, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 25 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Nikki Barnabee/@GargoylePhan
July, 26 2013 at 1:51 pm

Hi, Heiddi!
I don't have kids, but your post just MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. Not only for kids. We all feel better when someone notices that we've done something well. And it gives us an incentive to do even better.
It sounds like Bob is lucky to have a great mom in his corner. :-}

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 28 2013 at 5:45 am

Hiya Nikki,
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. It is true that everyone benefits from accentuating the positive. Sometimes, people spend so much time focusing on the negative stuff that they miss the good stuff. Thanks so much for the compliment and the visit. Please come again soon! :)

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