Parenting Lessons: Focus on the Small Victories

December 10, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Focus on the small victories? What does that mean? It means that you need to focus on the little things rather than the big ones. For parents of a child with mental illness, it is often hard to see the little things; to notice the small wins that kids have. Especially children who act out or have frequent behavioral problems. Bob recently had an issue at school and I was reminded of something that happened with my father. I chose to focus on small victories. And this focus helped Bob.

The Backstory

A year ago, I received a call from Bob. It was unusual because Bob should have been in his after-school program at the time. Bob called because he forgot that there was no programming that day. It means there's no staff for after-school. And that he was stuck. So was I. I couldn't leave work to get him and neither could his father. I had him call my father to go pick him up. When I went to pick Bob up later that evening, there was a problem. My father was upset that Bob forgot that there was no programming. And he began criticizing Bob for it. Now, it is no secret that my father and I have different parenting styles. But, I didn't feel it was fair for my father to be upset. At least the kid called for help. My father couldn't and wouldn't give Bob any credit.

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The Small Victory

I, on the other hand, could and did. I tried to explain to my father that the best thing that Bob did was to call and let me know what was going on. Bob could have chosen another way to handle it like going home on his own or walking to his grandmother's. (There is an expressway between our homes and the after-school program and it is very dangerous to cross alone). But, he didn't. Bob called me. My father wasn't trying to hear thins. He refused to give Bob any credit because he felt Bob should have remembered. I then tried talking to him about the nature of ADHD, but that didn't work either. Finally, I pointed out my father's recent difficulties with remembering things . It didn't work either.

The Lesson?

In the end, the only thing that mattered was that Bob knew that I saw the victory in this situation. And I told him so. On the way home, I let Bob know how proud I was of his good decision. He kept himself safe and let me know what was going on. The small victories are the little things that can positively motivate your child. When you focus on the small victories, you can help your child improve their behavior.

photo credit: andsat via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, December 10). Parenting Lessons: Focus on the Small Victories, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 18 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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