Chapter 7: Positive Intent

Positive Intent is closely tied in with the Power of Attention; what you focus on, you get more of. Positive Intent requires us as parents and educators to view our children in the best light. Our children’s intentions are often to get their needs met; whether it be obtaining an item, connecting with someone, or seeking assistance. It is unfair to assume that children’s motives have malicious intent toward others. As with any skill, children need the opportunity to learn how to interact with others! Let’s take a moment to focus on turning moments of conflict into teachable moments.

Putting Positive Intent Into Practice:

Consider the following scenario: your four year-old lets you know that his older brother is in a disagreement with a friend. One approach would be to respond by saying, “that’s tattletaling.” When we look at this situation using Positive Intent, we might see that our younger child is feeling concerned about his brother. He may want help in resolving the situation, and needs adult intervention to do so! Putting the skill of Positive Intent to work, we could say to the four year -old, “You sound like you’re feeling worried about your big brother.” This statement sends the invitation for dialogue, and signals that you are available as a resource.

Another scenario might involve a child who has grabbed something from another child. This is a common scenario for families who have more than one child! One approach might be to grab the item away from the child and say, “You know we don’t take toys!” If we approach the situation utilizing Positive Intent, we would approach the child, get down at their eye level, and say, “You forgot to ask if your sister was finished using that toy.” Positive intent allows the child to become acquainted with the fact that it is certainly acceptable to forget sometimes. At this point, we would direct the child to hand the item back to their sibling, and say, “Will you let me know when you’re done?” Using the moment as an opportunity to practice a valuable skill becomes a teachable moment, and says to the child, “You forgot this time. You can practice so that next time you ask for a turn.”

Using the skill of Positive Intent is truly a way to set children up for a lifetime of seeing the best in others. We can teach our children to adopt an optimistic, yet pragmatic, point-of-view towards others. In doing so, we CAN create a community that operates in a helpful and encouraging manner!


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