Birch Tree Psychology

Specializing in Therapy for Children, Adults, and Families


Improve Your Relationships Now!

Posted by Brittany on February 8, 2012 at 1:15 PM

How often have you had a bad day and noticed that you were more critical towards your loved ones? How often have you stood in line at a store and overheard people criticizing each other? Unfortunately sometimes stress gets the better of all of us and when this happens we can turn to negativity. There is a simple formula that I use with parents and couples to help combat this type of criticism. We can keep track of the ratio of positive to negative statements that you make in a relationship. This ratio is call the Losada ratio. We have figured out that when couples have a 5:1 (positive: to negative) ratio, it can predict a loving and secure marriage. However, research shows that people in relationships with lower Losada ratios tend to struggle. The good news is that anyone can increase their Losada ratio by simply increasing the number of positive statements one makes to his/her partner (for example; through gratitude, or compliments like, you look good today, or thanks for taking out the garbage, I appreciated your help today.) At first people may find it a little weird or uncomfortable to compliment their partner for things they believe they should just do, but after doing it for a while it becomes easier and couples start to feel more connected.


This ratio can also be used with your children to improve their self-esteem and happiness. Parents and children who have happy and loving relationships typically have a Losada ratio of 3:1, where parents say 3 positive statements for every one negative statement they make to their children. It is often a good idea to praise your child for behaviors that you may expect of them. For example, thank you for clearing your plate from the table, thanks for getting along so nicely with your sister today, good job studying for your test, or practicing piano. It should also be noted that research has found that people can go overboard with positivity. If you give above 13:1, positive to negative statements your complements tend to lose their credibility, so try to stick with a 5 positive to 1 negative ratio and start enjoying better relationships today. Good Luck!

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