October 1, 2022

The Opposites Principle

Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing. ~Ben Hogan


The “Opposites Principle” is the commonsense name for the more formal “Bipolarity Principle.” It states that every proposition must be capable of being both true and false. Another way of stating it is that there are always at least two options to every problem. What does this have to do with our lives as parents?  Let’s take the two most obvious ways.

First, when we are confronted with a problem in our lives we may frame it as an opportunity or as a limitation. Positive…negative. This will add to my life or it will take away from my life. However you choose to think about it, keep in mind that your children are watching and learning.

Second, when you observe your child’s undesirable behavior, do you focus on that behavior and attempt to punish it away…or do you attempt to strengthen its positive opposite? What is claiming your attention…the negative or the positive? You have a habit of one or the other. This is a simple and elegant principle that allows for peace, harmony and health, but it is our choice.

Our behavior management plan for our children will have its foundation formed by the direction we lean…the negative pole or the positive pole. All of the evidence suggests that reinforcing the positive opposite yields the most powerful change toward self-control for our children. Not only do we get a more self-regulated―balanced―child, we also pass on to them a superior way to live their life.

The simple formula is:

  • Give a warning for undesirable behavior and describe the positive opposite
  • Next…impose a time-out or “think-time”
  • Then model the positive opposite and reward them for trying it
  • Until they learn the positive opposite…reward it every time you see it

As simple as this is, please give it some thought and do the experiment. Be honest and determine which way you lean. Then, make a conscious and well-informed choice in how you live your life…especially for your children.

Until next time, “Claim your power and expand your dreams.” ~Dr. B

About Dr. B

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