1) Man, Amazon Prime was a brilliant idea for them and a terrible one for me.
2) Are the gifts that I've ordered the right ones to give?
Yes, I asked people what they wanted. Yes, I did find those things and bought them (except for a Playstation 4 because that's impossible to find and not worth the $800 it's going for on eBay). And yes, they'll be happy when they open them on whatever night of Chanukah or Christmas morning (or afternoon if I get what was on my list which was just one day to sleep in). But is that really the best way to show someone I care? On a mandated-by-Hallmark holiday? Or is there a better way to do it?
*Note: I am not advocating to not get your loved ones gifts for the holidays. Unless of course you no longer want them to be your loved ones.
No, I'm not saying to buy someone some water balloons and then announce it to the recipient by throwing one on them while they're asleep (voice of experience here). I'm saying that these things mean the most to us when it doesn't feel like the person who gave it to us *had* to do it. It's those random flowers, the gifts for no reason, the new toy just because. Those are the things that we cherish the most because really, in that instance, it's the thought that counts.
We as people love to be thought of. Some may deny it, but this is one of those things that is universal. Even if we feel like shutting the blinds and shunning the world, it's still nice to be missed or to have someone call because they're wondering where you are. Sometimes we can feel depressed and deny that with some very strong words, but when that phone call comes, the steel armor protecting that frown gets some cracks and a hint of a smile shines through.
Anyway, it's not just depression that is impacted by these random acts of positive gestures and comments; it's everyone. For example, with kids:
We always hear, and I preach this too, that we need to be consistent with our discipline of children, and that's still true. However, pairing that with this can teach our kids (remember, discipline is to TEACH, not to punish) exactly what want them to do. Right now a lot of kids are going through something called, Santa's-almost-here-so-forget-this-homework-crapitis. Okay, that's not a real disease, but all of the parents out there have seen the signs. Daydreaming, putting homework off for "five more minutes", writing a list for Santa as opposed to a list of state capitals like the teacher assigned, and getting a little more defiant and oppositional than usual (I mean hey, I'm either on the nice list or the naughty list by now, so what's the point in doing everything right?).
Fortunately, you can counteract this. When your kid is doing something right, praise him. Later, and don't do this every time, praise him again or give him a reward and tie it back to whatever you saw him doing well. It's especially helpful if he thinks that you didn't know that he did it, such as being nice to his sister or cleaning the kitty litter. "Hey Jason, get your shoes on, we're going for ice cream because I saw how nice you were to your sister and sometimes life does pay off." Again, don't do this every time, but you'll see him being nicer to his sister as he got positive attention and recognition for it. That spills into other parts of his life, such as putting his laundry away or not texting during dinner. Random rewards will get you a kid who is more likely to do the right thing without being asked *and* without the expectation of a reward every time. You'll be shocked with how well this works.
It works in your relationships, too. I flipped a coin to see if this were aimed at the husband or wife, so no guys, I'm not breaking the bro code by putting us on the naughty list for this one.
You've been wanting your husband to do his fair share around the house, but no matter how much you ask, the dishes are still in the sink and the trash is still sitting there. What do you do? Thank him for when he does do something right, regardless of how small it may be. Also keep in mind that the dishes/trash seem big because the negatives stand out, but not doing any laundry or picking up groceries would get you just as mad, and at least he's doing those (Hint guys, do those things). Anyway, either later that night or a couple days/nights later, thank him again in a bigger way. A kiss that lingers a little longer, a night where he's allowed to hold the remote, or other ways that may not be safe for work, your choice. Make sure that you explicitly tell him that he's getting whatever privilege you're giving it's because he did the laundry or picked up the groceries. Again, if you keep this up once or twice or three times a week, and of course thank him when he finally DOES do what he's supposed to do, you'll be surprised as to how little time those dishes seem to spend in the sink and what little hesitation it takes to get the trash to the curb.
The reason that this works is because we are hardwired to strive for social acceptance. This social acceptance is demonstrated best by direct rewards, including praise. If we, at any age, get a positive response for an action, then we're very likely to repeat it. Not doing it frequently but not every time is also effective because it will lower the expectation of a consistent reward for a behavior (homework/dishes) yet still make us feel like we're doing what gains us social acceptance. This makes all aspects of a relationship better as we put two and two together and try to do more things in the way that the person we want acceptance from wants them done so that we get more praise. It's just what we do as people. It's the same reason that teenagers try to act cool by being idiots sometimes to impress their friends and the same reason that we might do things to get a guy/girl that we wouldn't normally do.
This sounds great, but what about my specific issues with a significant other/co-worker/friend/child?
Well, these will be effective with almost anyone. However, if you and I work together, we can come up with strategies that are specific to your own child/friend/significant other that will use these principles in the quickest and most efficient way possible. While what we've talked about here is effective, nothing beats making a tailored plan to fit your unique situation.
There are also other things that you can do to encourage even better behaviors, but I just don't have the space to write them all out here. Go ahead and e-mail me, contact me through this website, or give me a call/text at (302) 464-0021 and we can get started on making a plan that works for you.
There's no better gift than making someone feel appreciated, and there's no better way to do that than through random positive comments/gestures. And for your own sake, don't think that this gets you out of showing them how many dollars-worth you love them. That'll get you on the wrong side of these situations faster than PlayStation 4's are selling out in stores.
It can be hard to come up with all of this on your own, but remember:
Nobody said that it would be easy, but nobody said that you had to do it alone.