(Written by Katherine Gordy Levine) A lot of therapists stress the importance of communication in relationships, that every issue should be talked out and each person’s position understood. I side with John Gottman, a leading expert on marital relations, who says “Phooey” when it comes to stressing the importance of communication. Gottman instead suggest that if you and your partner exchange positives five times as often as you exchange negatives, you will build a positive, strong relationship—and I recommend that this works for parent-child relationships also.
Claude Steiner, a Transactional Analyst (TA) invented the “warm fuzzy” and “cold prickly” terms in his story A Warm Fuzzy Tale. No need to define the terms. We know what a warm fuzzy is when we get one and are just as sure when someone hits us with a cold prickly! When it comes to building positive and strong relationships with your children, having it in your mind to keep a balance of five warm fuzzies for every cold prickly will set you in good stead.
Now it can be mighty tricky to give five warm fuzzies for every cold prickly at some ages and stages. I’ll admit, caring for my two and a half year old grandson two to three days a week stretches my ability to keep the ratio on the side of the fuzzies! The years between four and ten are easier ones, unless a child has a challenge—say hyperactivity, a learning disability or a major mental illness. Then come the pre-teens and teens. When I was a foster parent, dealing with good teens doing bad things, I had to work very consciously on making sure I delivered more fuzzies than prickles.