Examples of negative statements:
“Don’t touch that!”
“If we go to the grocery store, you better not act up like you did last time.”
Same statements, in positive:
“Isn’t that pretty to just look at?”
“I know you can be my special helper at the grocery store!”
I’m not saying that you have to turn everything to positive or never discipline, but if you are making some negative statements, make sure to offset them by positives ones. Why? Because your relationship is likely to improve the more you improve the ratio of positive statements to negative ones.
Where does the magic happen? At the Losada Line, where you make 3 positive statements for every negative one. Go above 3 (the statistically accurate number is 2.9013, but who thinks in those terms?) and relationships and a cooperative environment improve. Below that ratio, they suffer.
And interestingly, the absolute sweet spot is a 6 to 1 ratio. So start getting your positive statements ready!
The Losada line comes from decades of research by Marcial Losada, a psychologist and business consultant. Losada studied interactions in the corporate world, but I think it is applicable to family dynamics as well.
I also believe that The Losada line should be considered as a part of Corporate Wellness. In fact, Losada observed when working with corporations they could increase their productivity by 40% after adjusting their positive/negative ratio above the Losada line (source: Shawn Anchor, The Happiness Advantage, p 61).
For more about the Losada line, please read here.