In the universe around us, there exists a mathematical wonder known as The Golden Ratio. Artists, architects, and engineers use this naturally occurring phenomenon every day. There is another Golden Ratio on which I have been dependent my entire adult life. Every parent and teacher needs to know it in order to help children remember their worth. Read and be encouraged!
My inner scientist, which operates like an excited kindergartener, was introduced to the Golden Ratio (or golden mean, golden section, golden rectangle, et al.) many years ago. It is fascinating! It is mathematically self perpetuating and can be seen in the natural world all around us. Sunflowers, pinecones, sea shells, and other works of creation demonstrate it.
So far my only talent for the use of the Golden Ratio is to seek it out and notice it as I go through the world. I enjoy the mystery and the magic of it. I am, after all, not a scientist in the mature sense of the word. I like to explore and looking for examples of the Golden Ratio.
For those of you that are curious or are mathematically inclined, the Golden Ratio can be expressed as a decimal that goes on forever like Pi. It begins like this:
There is another Golden Ratio that is even more meaningful to me. More than simply meaningful, I consider it to be the one vital mathematical formula that every parent and teacher must know, understand and utilize. This Golden Ration is also self perpetuating and can be found in the world around us. All me need to do is look for it...and then create it.
Mathematically, my favorite Golden Ratio is not complex. It is easy enough for all of us to understand, which is fortunate; we all need to understand this. The formula for my Golden Ratio is as follows:
Ten parts to one part. Ten times more of the first element than the second.
The element being portioned here is the way we speak with children. Our words. There must be 10 positive exchanges for every 1 negative exchange. 10:1. This is crucial to the overall well being, sense of self worth, and confidence of young children.
When this ratio is used as we interact with the children in our care, they are aware of their value, and do not have to spend their energy fighting for approval or validation. Any less than 10:1, and children are negatively affected. For every one criticism there must be ten affirmations. Actually, this is true across all life stages. You need this too. And your spouse.
Measuring the golden ratio of exchanges with your children is fairly easy. Once you begin this intentional practice it will soon become a habit. Your children will not be the only beneficiaries of this. Your friends, coworkers, family members will begin to feel more positive when you are around and these uplifting feelings will spread far to others you may not know. Your children's friends and their families will begin to sense the positive encouragement that comes when the words we speak are uplifting.
How can you put this into practice? Here are the top ways to get started:
Positively spoken correction is a positive exchange. First let me state the obvious: parents must often correct, guide, or steer their children. If this wasn't necessary there would be no need for parents. The object, however, is to guide your children without berating or bullying. Teaching and helping is a positive experience for parents and children. The secret is to keep your tone of voice, body language, and choice of words uplifting and encouraging. Try saying, "make a smaller loop with your laces and your will be able to tie your shoes more easily." Rather than, "Are you ever going to learn to tie your own shoes?" Be kind and firm.
Eye contact is positive communication. When speaking to your children, look at them. When you must give instructions and you want cooperation, a very important tool is eye contact. Calling over your shoulder or while walking away gives the impression that what you have said is not important. Get down on your child's eye level, look them in the eye, say what you have to say, and ask for confirmation that they understand what you have said. This may seem time consuming, but think of this: is it more time consuming than repeating yourself and getting frustrated? Your child is a person who deserves to be treated with respect. Eye contact is part of that.
Go beyond "good job, buddy!". Affirmation is more effective when it is specific and clearly explained. When you want to impress upon your child what they have done right, say exactly what it was and why it was right. Try this, "Good work clearing your plate from the table and putting it in the sink. When everyone cleans up after themselves the house is so much nicer. I like it when you do that." You will be amazed at the effect specific praise has on anyone...no matter their age.
Speak kindly to yourself. Being positive when speaking to yourself is a way to keep the good vibes going. The world is negative enough without you criticizing yourself too harshly. Remind yourself while you remind your child that you have worked hard, done well, and tomorrow is another day. Just be kind. Your clearly spoken, politely delivered words will be well received by those around you, and your children will be the greatest beneficiaries.
The Golden Ratio of raising children is very important to remember if you want to, and I know you do, raise your children to believe in their own personal value. It is easy for parents to be so tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed to remember that courtesy is important when dealing with everyone. Including your children. The Golden Ratio is a lot like the Golden Rule: it is for all of us including our children. Treat your children the same way you want to be treated when you are vulnerable and learning.
The idea of the mathematical Golden Ratio absolutely fascinates me even though I am not a mathematician. I can see it, I can imagine it, I can admire it, but I can not for the life of me understand it. I stop and stare in wonder every time I encounter it. It's one of those weird things that makes me smile. Go figure.
For a fun and informative look at this math magic, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwYfuJfIgaw&t=292s