One Thing At A Time

Someone has done something to upset you, so you express your frustration. Later, they do something kind for you. The temptation is strong to connect the two events, to offer less gratitude or praise than the kind gesture deserves because you’re still frustrated from before.


Don’t punish people for bridging gaps, and don’t cross your concepts. Reward that which is deserving, and correct where correction is needed, but don’t cross the two.

The same goes in reverse. My kids are all really fantastic 99% of the time. That doesn’t mean they earn the right not to be punished when a behavior needs correcting. It does mean they’ve earned my trust and we can work together to address bad behavior without it having to be a battle. But sometimes a kid still gets grounded, no matter how good they’ve been overall.

But when they are grounded, I still tell them how much I appreciate it when they spontaneously take out the trash or do some dishes. I don’t default to a mean-spirited “yeah, you’d better do that,” or anything similar.

This is a hard thing to do. We are emotional creatures, and emotions spill over easily from one event, one moment, to the next. That’s fine by itself – but be aware of it. Talk about it. But don’t let it rule you. Just handle one thing at a time, in the right way for each thing. You’ll do fine.

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