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Making Deposits Into Your Child’s Emotional Bank Account

What is an emotional bank account?

What is an emotional bank account? Dr. Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families®, defines an emotional bank account as one’s relationship with another. He explains the concept of an emotional bank account with a metaphor: “By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes ‘deposits.’  Conversely, by reactively doing things that decrease trust, one makes ‘withdrawals.’  The current ‘balance’ in the emotional bank account, will determine how well two people can communicate and problem-solve together.” If you are struggling to communicate with your child you may need to ask yourself, “Do I need to make more deposits?”

When an emotional bank account has more deposits then withdrawals the people involved in that relationship will trust each other. Ridvan Foxhall Occupational Therapist and Educator states, “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.”

Parents will make mistakes and will make withdrawals from their child’s emotional bank account. Understanding the difference between the deposits and withdrawals will help parents to build a large reserve of deposits in their children’s emotional bank account. 

What are common withdrawals?

  • Checking your phone when your child is speaking to you
  • Nagging
  • Yelling or screaming at your child
  • Criticizing them
  • Being sarcastic
  • Talking about them negatively to others
  • Interrupting them when they are speaking to you

When we realize that we are making these withdrawals, we need to quickly apologize and stop making these withdrawals. We need to replace the withdrawals with deposits.

parent deposits into emotional bank account

Ideas for making deposits in your child’s emotional bank account

  • Apologize when you make a mistake
  • Really listen- no interrupting or looking at your phone
  • Spend time with them- play a game or cook with them
  • Greet them as they come home
  • Notice what they are doing
  • Attend their activities
  • Be kind and patient
  • When children make a mistake, be compassionate and help them to solve their own problem
  • Laugh with them
  • Spend one on one time with them
  • Keep your promises
  • Relationships take time and lots of love.

Families can learn how to make deposits in each other’s accounts. As the deposits increase, the challenges your family may have had in the past will now become opportunities to build trust. Communication will improve in homes when children feel that their opinion is valued. The home is a place where children learn relationship skills that will help them through adulthood. Parents can affect future generations by modeling kindness to others and contributing to healthy relationships.

FranklinCovey consultant
Susan Wilson, Leader in Me Consultant

Susan’s life mission is to help strengthen families and communities. As a former foster parent, she has seen the importance of learning and applying healthy parenting skills. She currently works at FranklinCovey for the Education team. She is a consultant for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® and a facilitator for several parenting courses. Susan has earned a bachelor’s degree with from Brigham Young University with emphasis on family life.

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Written by Susan Wilson

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