Tuesday, July 6, 2010

the emotional bank account

The goal: to have a positive balance in the account. 

The account to which I refer: the emotional bank account. 

Deposits may consist of, but are not limited to:  sincere compliments and/or praise, quality time spent together, showing confidence in the other party, expressing gratitude, listening with undivided attention when the other party is speaking, giving a thoughtful gift, providing a great opportunity, outing or experience, assisting the other party in completing tasks.  acting with integrity and honesty are also major deposits.

Withdrawals may consist of, but are not limited to:  giving a punishment (though sometimes unavoidable), forgetting to follow through with something, not taking the time to listen, asking more than was originally required, being inconsistent, removing a privilege or opportunity, gossiping or talking behind the other party’s back, lying, manipulating or any other dishonest behavior.

My dad was a proponent of keeping a positive balance in our emotional bank accounts when we were growing up and still practices this principle today, with his children, his family, his business associates and anyone else he cares to have a relationship with.

Cooper and I were having a few rough moments last week and as I heard myself raise my voice in an attempt to get through to him, the thought came to me, “you’re making a withdrawal.  do you have enough deposits to compensate?”  I usually don’t think in these terms, so I paid attention and immediately changed my tone of voice.  I later thought through our week and wondered if I had indeed made enough deposits in his emotional bank account to still maintain a positive balance despite the withdrawals that had occurred. 

I attempt to read to and play with my children on a daily basis, I try to use positive reinforcement when the behaviors around here warrant it, I’ll lay down with my kids at night and talk or sing if I’m asked and I hope they see these things as deposits.  I hope that the time spent in the pool, or at the park, or at the museum adds to the positive balance in their accounts because inevitably I’ll lose my patience, I’ll require a extra job be done before we leave the house, I’ll make them wait before they get what they are asking for and I will occasionally have my priorities out of line. 

While this principle came to my mind in regards to my children last week, it made me evaluate the balance of other relationships I have.  Is Denten’s account with me positive?  Have I made more deposits than withdrawals?  Are there friends that I take from more than I give to?  Where is the balance with family and friends that do not live close to me?

I have felt (perhaps in selfish moments) that my account with someone is in the red, and it is frustrating and lonely.  If someone continues to take and never give back, to be negative without throwing in any positive, it is a good hit to the self-esteem, self-confidence and security in a relationship.  I’m grateful my angels reminded me of this principle and give me the opportunity daily to make numerous deposits into these little emotional bank accounts so on days when it seems I am saying, “no” all day long, they still maintain a positive balance and know, that despite the negative, they are loved beyond measure and continue to build a strong sense of self-confidence.


The Silly Witch said...

What a great reminder for these summer days when our interactions with are children are many. Not all can be positive when they do such silly things, but we can try. I think the Primary manual talks about "bank accounts" in different words; it counsels teachers to say 5 positives for 1 negative. I guess maybe I need to let a few more things slide and play with my kids more.

Kristi said...

Oh boy...I think this was specifically for me. I really needed to read this. Thanks so much for the reminder. I'm pretty sure my two older kids are in the red right now. It has been a stressful few days and I need to rethink things.