By September 3, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Positive parenting leads to better behavior

In today’s busy world, with all our daily pressures, it’s easy to forget that it is possible to say “no” to our children as kindly as we say “yes”. Sure, they can be exasperating sometimes, but it’s their job to test us and to explore the world and their environment. As we enter the hectic school year, here are a few tips to remind us that we can all be positive parents with happy, well-behaved children.

Tell your child what to do versus what not to do. For example, rather than saying “don’t go in the street,” tell your child “stay on the sidewalk so you don’t get hit by a car.” Instead of saying “don’t touch that” try “play with your toy truck, not mommy’s crystal candle holder.”

Praise your child when he is doing something right. Children crave attention, even negative attention. It’s hard for us to ignore bad behavior, but often good behavior is noted but not mentioned to the child. The next time you’ve spent 10 minutes on the phone and you notice your child is playing quietly alone, cut your call short, sit down and join him. Tell him you are proud of him for behaving while you were on the phone and now that you’ve finished your call you are ready to play with him. It will encourage him to play quietly the next time you’re on a call rather than demanding attention. Tell your partner within earshot of your little one how proud you are that he has been so well behaved lately (be as specific as possible to highlight the behavior you want to encourage).

Use immediate reinforcement for appropriate behavior. Don’t wait until after lunch to reward your little one for behaving well while you negotiated with a plumber in the morning. The reward and reinforcement should be immediate so your child understands what behavior he is being rewarded for.

Be very specific with instructions and be consistent. Be firm, specific and make sure the task is understood and completed. Don’t suggest something you want done, say it in clear terms that cannot be misunderstood.

Do not ask unless you are willing to take no for an answer. I have learned not to ask my daughter things like “are you ready to go?” when we are about to leave because very often her answer is no. Now I say “it’s time to go, let’s go put our coats on.” I also always give her a 5-minute warning so she is aware that she needs to finish whatever she is doing.

Use short, clear, sentences and make sure the consequences are understood. Children tune out long lectures. Instead, use simple directions: “Put your shoes on,” “brush you teeth,” or “put your game away”.  Be clear, don’t negotiate and make sure the task is done. Don’t give too many directions at once, keep them to two, like “get your pajamas on and brush your teeth.”

Avoid getting into a power struggles with your child by using humor or distractions. When tired or hungry children will often put their foot down and refuse to budge, either literally or figuratively. When you see this happening, the best defense is to redirect or diffuse the confrontation. With young children humor or distraction will very often work. Once when we were camping my daughter started whining about something silly and began to cry while sitting on a toilet. I was in the stall next to her and asked in funny way “are you crying on the toilet?” Somehow it struck her as funny and she laughed. Now, if she’s whining about something ridiculous, I’ll either pick her up and run toward the toilet or I’ll as her if I should bring her there so she can have a good cry. She usually starts laughing, even begrudgingly. Find a way to turn your child’s mood around.

Teach your child acknowledge and verbalize conflicts. When your child behaves in a manner that is inappropriate — like pushing a sibling because he doesn’t want to share a toy — calmly discuss what could have been done differently. After you’ve had several discussions about how to behave, begin asking the child what she could have done differently.

Write simple stories about social situations and phrases to explain sequences of events to your child. My husband is great at this. Each evening at bedtime he tells our daughter a story that has a theme related to some behavior or issue that happened that day.  My daughter loves the stories, all of which takes place in the Redwood Forest and revolve around a set of animal characters she loves. We know she’s listening because she sometimes mentions the stories the following day. She also loves Cheri J. Meiner’sbooks and  seems to learn from them. Carol Gray has written a book called Social Storiesthat is also recommended.

Use terms that make your child stop and listen. “Stop—Think—Make Good Choices” is one that I have found very effective. I often tell my child that she has many choices to make throughout the day and it is important to make good ones. If I see her mood shifting, I’ll often ask her if we are going to continue having fun or if she’s going to make a bad choice.

Do not give in to meltdowns or temper tantrums. We are all bone-tired sometimes and have little fight left in us, but it is so important that we do not give in to bad behavior. It is slippery slope that leads them to believe that tantrums will get them what they want. It is okay to listen to your child and compromise, but to not give in to a tantrum.

Praise your child whenever possible, especially to other people. When I feel my daughter is in need of a boost of self-esteem, I’ll often choose something she’s done well that day and praise her to my husband within her earshot. She almost immediately perks up and you can see her puff with pride.

Surprise your child with unexpected “together time”. Every once in a while, when your child has been behaving well, surprise her with something unexpected — like a trip to the zoo or the beach. Let him or her know that they are the most important thing in your life.

References:

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, Thomas W. Phelan

Posted in: Behavior, For Moms

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