Do you feel like you are wasting energy with your kids? Does it seem that the whining and complaining are going to drive you crazy? Do you lose your cool when trying to get the kids to listen? Are you eager to have a more positive and healthy relationship with your kids? Have you had enough with your kids not listening to you?

Well, maybe it’s time to start this year with the Terrific Parenting 30-day challenge!

Let me ask you to imagine this. Suppose I have been magically following you around your house for the past year, and I have been carrying two huge buckets. On the side of the first bucket is a plus sign (+) for positive behavior. Every time that you engaged, noticed, smiled at, or talked to your kids during a positive or healthy moment, I put a penny in the positive bucket.

On the other hand, I have another bucket with a big negative (-) sign. Every time that you invested energy in negative behavior, I dropped a penny in this bucket. In other words, every time you were nagging, reminding, prodding, pushing, arguing, giving nasty looks, or even “commanding” your children to change their current behavior…you get a penny.

What is critical to understand here is that I am putting pennies in the bucket every time you engage (i.e., give your attention and energy) either a positive moment…or a negative moment. Now, back to the buckets….What would these two buckets look like?

Many of the parents I work with tell me like it looks like the negative bucket is overflowing, and there are a few pennies in the positive bucket.

Well, this is a problem. It’s even a bigger problem than it appears, as time goes by. We have to change this if we want this year to be the best year ever.

Why? Because you can’t nurture more positive behavior by investing your energy in negative behavior.

This is a critical fundamental that many of us just don’t get. If your child happens to be an easy child, who has few oppositional or challenging qualities, then you can “sneak by” without coming to head with this critical lesson.

However, if you have a child who is more oppositional, strong-willed, resistant, or non-compliant, then you must understand this fundamental principle, or otherwise, life will get ugly.

So, the first principle to master is: You cannot nurture positive and healthy behavior by consistently investing your energy and time in negative behavior. So what do you do instead?

You Must Master The Rule Of Watering Seeds and Starving Weeds!

Seeds refer to positive, healthy, and productive behavior. There are seeds of happiness; there are seeds of responsibility, and there are seeds of kindness. These are all the behaviors we want to nurture.

Then, there are weeds! Weeds include all the negative behavior, such as whining, complaining, negotiating, arguing, not listening, disrespect, kids squabbling, and general attitudes of negativity.

Your home may be a place where you invest more of your energy in weeds than seeds. If so, you likely have a few struggles on your hands. If you take the 30-day challenge, you can turn this around and make this year the best year ever.

How do you do this?

You start watering seeds very heavily. For the next 30 days, obsess on moments of thoughtfulness, kindness, hard work, and responsibility. When the kids are carrying their plates from the table to the dishwasher, touch them on the shoulder and smile. When they help to carry in the groceries, gently wink at them. While they are doing their homework, walk by and give them a 30-second shoulder rub. When they are playing well together, walk by and smile, or bring them a cup of juice, or give them a thumbs-up. Every time you give your attention to these positive moments, you are watering seeds of responsibility with your attention and energy.

In addition, however, you must “starve weeds.” You must avoid giving your energy to weeds, or otherwise, they just keep growing. Have you noticed that you can bring harsh consequences upon these “weed-like behaviors” and they just still don’t seem to go away? It’s because you keep watering them…watering them with your attention and energy.

So over the next 30 days, see what happens when you start ignoring those weeds. That’s right! Ignore the weeds. I know it’s hard. I know it’s tough. I know it’s annoying. But you still have to show them that this negative behavior is not worthy of your attention.

The world will not invest in these negative, annoying, and unproductive moments. So…to prepare them for the real world…you must teach them you will walk away.

For some of you, your child will follow you. They will be your shadow, whining and complaining all the while. Keep starving that weed…until it fades away.

Step 3: Be patient! Seeds take a while to grow.

As you go through the next month, do not expect magical results at the end of a week. I would encourage you not even to expect magical results by the end of two weeks.

But, if you consistently put your energy into moments of positive, healthy behavior and consistently walk away from more negative behavior, you will see a dramatic shift in your household over the next 30 days. Test it, and make this year the best year ever!