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The Piggy Bank of Emotional Deposits and Withdrawals

Emotional Deposits and Withdrawals

We all have emotional piggy banks that receive daily deposits and withdrawals from those around us. When someone brings you flowers, it’s a deposit! If someone in the family asks when you’re having another baby, it might be a withdrawal. And these all add up!  

On days when we’ve had more withdrawals than we’re used to, we might feel a little on edge or depleted. The same goes for kids! When it comes to parenting, withdrawals are part of the job. Asking children to do things that aren’t at the top of their list (like washing their hands) or to stop doing something (like hitting their sister) is all part of raising healthy happy kids.  

The trick is to make sure their deposits outweigh their withdrawals. To keep your kids in a good mental space, try to give them five deposits for every withdrawal. That way, your child will have some change to spare when you need them to cooperate with your requests. Below are some ideas for ways to make daily deposits into your child’s emotional piggy bank.  

Examples of emotional deposits 

So what are emotional deposits? That’s easy! You do them every day when you spend one-on-one time with your little learner. 
  • Babies and toddlers:  
    • Acknowledge and respond to your child’s needs as soon as possible.  
    • Use a warm, calming tone when speaking with them. 
    • Follow their lead when they’re trying to share something with you. 
    • Spend time on the floor playing together. 
  • 2-year-olds and older: 
    • Engage in one-on-one interactions at their eye level. 
    • Acknowledge their communication (verbally or nonverbally). 
    • Follow their lead and interests during play and discovery. 
    • Provide specific feedback to their ideas, thoughts, and actions, like: 
      • “Excellent idea for ...” 
      • “I really like how you … “ 
      • “That’s a cool way to ...” 
Here’s a tip: To practice the 5:1 ratio, put 5 rubber bands or pieces of string on your wrist. As you give deposits, move the bands one at a time to the opposite wrist. This will help you keep up with how many deposits you’ve made. Challenge yourself to not make a withdrawal before making your five deposits. 

Keep in mind that new strategies may take a couple of weeks to show results. Don’t be discouraged! As you practice this more with your child you should start to see the benefits. Not only will you reduce the frequency of challenging behaviors, you’ll also build their self-esteem and model ways to build positive relationships with others.   
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