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Parenting: Childhood

The Power of the Red Plate: Changing the Negative Atmosphere in Your Home

One Easy Idea to Change the Negative Atmosphere of Your Home

As you know, life can be discouraging for our children. It can seem like we are always correcting them. Things don’t always go their way. In addition, family squabbling can also deflate the atmosphere in our homes.

What if I told you of one simple trick to change the tone of your house? Sharon and I practiced this consistently around our family dinners and it often provided a much-needed boost.

It is the tradition of The Red Plate.

As the leaders of our home, we have the power to make it an encouraging place or a discouraging place. In the late 1980’s, when I was a computer programmer, our team had “The Pumpkin.” The Pumpkin was a small ceramic pumpkin that sat in the cubicle of the last person who had messed up. Even though it was given out in fun, it still sent a message. So when a more encouraging manager took over our team, The Pumpkin was the first thing to go in the trash.

Giving The Pumpkin or The Red Plate?
Some of us parent with The Pumpkin in mind – thinking about and reminding our children of the day’s failures.

While there is a place for correcting the negative, how much better to catch our children doing something right. And so our family copied the tradition of The Red Plate.

Around the time we were raising our children, many families were buying a red plate that said, “You are special.”

Liking the idea but not wanting to spend the money, we bought our own regular red plate and bowl. The red plate came out at special times to celebrate a family member.

Why is The Red Plate so powerful?
1. It gives you the power to highlight something that might go unnoticed. We did use the plate for something that we all celebrate – like birthdays. But more often, we used it to highlight one child who had been especially loving or kind or studied hard. Rather than rewarding outcomes, we tried to reward godly character.

2. It contributes a positive tone to your house. Rather than focusing on correction, it moved our focus to affirmation. We were trying to be a happy family, catching others doing something right.

3. It teaches your other children to rejoice with those that rejoice. The Red Plate turned the attention to one special family member and created a sense of family identity. We wanted the other children to have an “All-for-one and one-for-all” mentality. The Red Plate was a way to actively train this attitude.

4. It gives direction to your dinner time discussions. The Red Plate given by Mom allows the whole family to report to Dad what the recipient did. And Dad should be the chief affirmation officer. This gives him a chance for the whole family to hear his praise. (And it is really encouraging when Mom gives it to Dad or Dad gives it to Mom!)

So buy your own red plate and start celebrating each other.

You will only be sorry you did not start earlier.

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