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The Times
  • Family Matters: Don’t be afraid to leave love notes

  • Using love notes can remarkably change behavior.

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  • Bring on the love notes
    Years ago, I had a difficult time getting my teenage daughter to do her job of unloading the dishwasher. I would come home from work to a sink filled with dishes left by her brothers because she hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher. Every day I had to tell her to unload the dishwasher. Yelling didn’t work. Taking away privileges didn’t work, either.
    I decided to approach my daughter with love, rather than out of frustration. With my arm around her, I asked what I could do to help her get the job done. She complained for a while, and I allowed her to vent. She said she just didn’t have time to do it all alone, and needed my help. Keeping my goal in mind, I helped her unload the dishes, and used our time together to tell her how responsible she was, and how proud I was of her many accomplishments.
    From the heart
    When the dishes were done, I cut out a big heart from some red paper and wrote my teenage daughter a little love note. I wrote that I was proud for how responsible she was, and how much it meant to me to come home to an empty dishwasher. The next day I came home to find a clean, emptied dishwasher.
    After giving her a hug and a kiss, I left her a little sticky note by her place at the dinner table that night, expressing my appreciation and gratitude for her thoughtfulness. I stepped up my awareness and left her love notes when she was especially kind or thoughtful, letting her know that I loved the young lady she was growing up to be. I couldn’t believe how a simple Post-it note could change her behavior and improve our relationship. When we packed her up for college, she pulled a shoebox out from under her bed filled with all the love notes I had given her.
    Today and every day
    Starting today, make the conscious effort to look for all of the good, kind behaviors your child exhibits. Too often in a rush, we overlook best efforts, and focus only on the disruptive behaviors that require our attention. Turn the tables. Appreciate each effort and express gratitude. Start writing out those little love notes today.
    Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting coach who lives in Stark County, Ohio. She is author of “Parenting with a Purpose.” Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.
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