Positive labels, the in/out tray and other lessons from Parenting with Confidence

I gave my girl a gift last week, the gift of positive labels.

As I wrote each one down, I explained to her what the meaning of the word, and how she lives them out in daily life.

(I’ve been wanting to do this since I attended a parenting workshop with Focus on the Family some time back.)

I guess we all know a girl’s heart when it comes to praise and words of affirmation.

True enough, when I was done, Vera said,”Mummy, I like this, you must keep for me okay?” This simple artwork now hangs on our wall, near the dining table, and every so often, I will name one or two out, to remind her of her unique qualities and to highlight good behaviour.

I see this not only as a way to affirm her character and behaviour, but also as a way of reminding her to keep reaching for such character traits, especially when she’s struggling with her emotions or if JJ has stepped on her toes. Not as a form of manipulation, but as a form of encouragement.

positive labels for children

Another thing I’ve picked up from the workshop, which is tailored for parents with children 0-6 years old, is the in/out tray.

It’s a simple exercise. Just imagine an in/out tray at work, except that in this case, your in-tray should be filled with things that you want to do, or want to do more, as a parent.

And conversely for the out-tray. (I would imagine if you’re anything like me, there’ll be a lot more things in the out-tray.)

So here’s what’s currently in my in-tray:

  • Hug and kiss more
  • Play more, laugh more
  • Spend more time on creative projects


  • Less yelling as a way of venting my frustrations
  • Less time on machines (more time on people)
  • Less stressing out over the small stuff (this relates to being able to identify the majors from the minors)

Since attending the workshop, I’ve also changed from seeing myself as a disciplinarian to a parent-coach.

The parent-coach is consistent, flexible but strong, calm, playful, positive, not overly protective, shows affection, sets rules with reasons, encourages cooperation, uses consequences, and sees mistakes as opportunities to learn.

You may identify with some of those traits, and you may be struggling with a few of the others. Remember it’s all part of the learning journey – as long as we keep striving to be better than we were yesterday.

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    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi Jin Ai, I agree, the poster serves to remind me of her special traits too, and to appreciate them in my heart, often.

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