Simple Parenting

One Easy Hack To Make Your Days With the Kids More Positive

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As a parent, do you sometimes fall into a habit of automatically snapping or yelling at your kids because you’re frustrated, annoyed, or just plain TIRED? We all become the “angry mom” from time to time, even though we know it can really make you (and them) feel terrible.

But I learned a cool hack that seriously helps make my days with my kids more positive—and it all starts with 5 rubber bands.

A great way to break the cycle of negativity is to tap into the research-proven “5:1 rule.” Did you know negative interactions (like an argument, or even just a too-harsh reaction to something minor) stick with people longer than positive ones?

The “5:1 rule” means that for every negative interaction you have with someone, you can make it up with 5 positive ones. 

How, you ask?

Start by putting 5 loose rubber bands, hair ties, or bracelets on one wrist when you start your day with the kids. Then, whenever you catch yourself doing something negative, move one of the bands to your other wrist.

The visual and physical reminder really works! The goal? To end the day with all 5 on the wrist where they started.

So how do you “earn back” the bands you moved to the other wrist? With 5 positive interactions—even quick and easy ones work. Hugs and cuddles work wonders. Kids thrive on that affection and it makes you feel the warm and fuzzies too. 

You could also read your child’s favorite book together, sing a song, or have an impromptu dance party.

Try discovering something together. Head outside and let them touch the leaves or flowers, watch an icicle melt, or look for airplanes in the sky. It’ll calm you both down.

Another thing to try: Look for even little things where you can give genuine praise (Wow! You put your shoes away. That’s so helpful!).

Basically anything that reconnects you with your kiddo will go toward balancing out that not-so-great interaction.

After I tried it for a while, just seeing or feeling those rubber bands on my wrist was a good enough reminder not to lose my cool in the first place. And when I focus on creating more of these positive moments with my boys, not only do I enjoy parenting more, I see their behavior improve, too! Well…most of the time 😉

Ailen is the Managing Editor at ParentsTogether. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and two spirited boys.