A few weeks ago, I had a huge falling out with my 13 year old son, which happens every now and then. Upon reflection, I realized that I was clearly out of order. What struck me later was how quickly we both recovered, made up and moved on. Most importantly, my son was very forgiving. This incident made me think about the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In one of the chapters, Covey writes about the emotional bank account.
According to Covey, an emotional bank account is a metaphor for the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship. One of the key foundations of a strong relationship is trust. In order to build trust one must continually make deposits of honesty, kindness, unconditional love, patience, all of those essential virtues that strengthen any relationship. In doing so, we build large reserves in the emotional bank account. When we form habits like cutting children off, being reactive, dishonest, or disrespectful, our child’s “bank” runs dry. The result is that often, when they are teenagers, there is very little room for communication and trust.
The action of making deposits begins at birth and continues throughout life. I made a withdrawal from the emotional bank account last week, but I feel we both recovered easily because of the reserve in the account. We often make mistakes when parenting our children, but if there is a large reserve, we can overcome them together and with greater ease. Lately with my work schedule picking up, I’ve made more mistakes in the parenting department than usual and I am so grateful for my children (and husband) and for their patience, flexibility and willingness to forgive.
Here are just a few ways to make deposits in the emotional bank account:
- Love unconditionally, with no strings attached.
- Truly understand the individual by sharpening your listening skills.
- Keep your promises and commitments.
- Show integrity in everything you do–your actions speak louder than words.
- Apologize when you make mistakes.
- Pay attention to the little things that may mean little to you but the world to them.
- Spend a lot time together, especially while they are young and want to be around you.
I highly recommend the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The chapter on emotional bank accounts is a lot more detailed than my short reflection.
What are some of the ways you make deposits into your child’s emotional bank account? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.