What is the magic ratio for healthy attachment?

Parenting Success – 5:1 magic ratio of positive to negative interactions.

Originally developed to describe stable romantic relationships, the 5:1 ration can be applied to parenting, too.

Striving to create five positive interactions for every negative one creates a lasting emotional connection between mothers and their children.

The 5:1 Ratio For Marriages

According to researchers John Gottman and Robert Levenson first used the term “5:1 Ratio” to describe how married couples related in the 1970s.

The five refers to positive interaction and the one, negative. The idea is that for every negative interaction during conflict-eye rolling, criticism, etc.

To come to this conclusion, Gottman and Levenson asked couples to resolve a conflict in their marriage in 15 minutes. Researchers observed how partners treated each other while they problem solved.

The scientists found that they were able to predict which marriages would prosper over time and which would fail with 90% accuracy.

When the masters of marriage are talking about something important, they may be arguing, but they are also laughing and teasing and there are signs of affection because they have made emotional connections.


How The 5:1 Ratio Applies to Parenting

Our kids are stuck with us for life–they can’t divorce their parents, can they?

Why should moms have to worry about maintaining a 5:1 ration in their relationship with their children?

Some moms and children share deep emotional bonds that lead them to have close relationships throughout adult life. Other people choose to distance themselves from their parents once they’re on their own.

Child Teen Counseling website, even as children, certain individuals want to behave well, and do well in school because they admire their parents and have a deep emotional connection with them.

Keeping a 5:1 ration of positive to negative interactions means that parents and children will have healthy relationships with each other.

It also means that children will strive to please their parents because they want to make them happy, not because they fear them.


What Positive Interactions Can I Have With My Child?

Keeping the ratio at five positive actions for every negative action sounds hard, but there are a lot of simple ways that parents can demonstrate their love, even in the middle of a conflict.

A flier published by Purdue University’s Department of Child Development & Family Studies recommends trying the following techniques.

Show Interest: Kids seem to babble on and on and it can be hard to take them seriously or pay attention.

Of course, building a positive connection with them means showing them that you’re interested in what they have to say. Parents should make eye contact, nod, and say “uh-huh” to demonstrate that they’re engaged. Putting down your cell phone is fundamental.


Show Affection:Parents can express the love they feel for their children in many ways. Saying, “I love you” may be the most straightforward. Hugs and backrubs are great, too.

Give your daughter a fancy hairstyle. Write a fun note and stick it in your child’s lunch box. Take a few minutes to dance with your kid. The options are endless.

Demonstrate Care: Caring for children is a parent’s main job. There are ways that we can do this so that our littles know we want to do it and not because we have to.

It can be as simple as squirting a ketchup smiley face on a sandwich or walking with them to school even though they can do it by themselves.

It also means asking what’s wrong when we notice something is bothering them.


Be Appreciative: Kids can get on our nerves and act out.

Even in the midst of conflict, try to focus on the qualities that make your kid unique and lovable.

Maybe they tell funny jokes or know how to dance really well. They may invent imaginative stories.

Try and focus on the fun activities you do together and the moments your child has made you feel proud.

Listen So You Understand: Kids get upset about stuff that seems silly to adults.

Even though it doesn’t seem serious to us (Who cares what color the balloon is?), our children’s feeling are really and big.

Listening doesn’t mean that we have to run to fulfil our child’s every wish, it just means taking time to understand what they’re feeling and acknowledge it.

Be Accepting: Being a kid is hard and scary sometimes. This means that our children get upset or angry.

It also means that sometimes they don’t want to do what we ask them. They want to affirm their independence.

Parents will benefit by accepting that children won’t always meekly follow our orders.

As long as they are respectful when they express their distaste, we should try and accept that they won’t always want to do the same things we do–like go camping or sit through a long dinner with grandma.

Of course, accepting that they don’t like something doesn’t mean you let them off the hook, though.


Share a Joke: Families share lots of inside jokes with each other. This is healthy.

Sometimes, even in the midst of a conflict, someone can use one of these jokes to break the tension.

Joking around is great, but parents should be careful to tell jokes that don’t hurt their children’s feelings.

If you are worried that your parenting ratio isn’t 5:1 and want to work on improving it, you can journal at the end of each day for a week. List and categorize interactions as positive or negative.

At the end of the week, count the positive and negative. If there are more negative than positive, or the number is about the same, it means there’s room for growth.

Choose two positive interactions from the list above and try implementing them every day.

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