Of course, most of us want to be the best possible parent we can be. With all the contradictory input we get from our parents, our friends, and even the experts, which way are we supposed to go?

Two things are sure, though: 1) All children want & need to be recognized for who they are as a blossoming soul; 2) Every child needs encouragement to become the best possible version of themselves. 

Children go through so-called growing phases when their brains are trying to sync with their bodies. Behaviors go haywire. Crankiness is at a high level. Perhaps shyness turns into aggressiveness if your child is being picked on at school (or a girl tries to kiss your son.) 

So, what's the best way to handle these transitions? These unwanted behaviors? First, you start with the positive, but it's a parent's responsibility to point out when a behavior is negative, saying, "That's inappropriate" or simply, "Try another way."

Recognition and Encouragement:
Recognition is when you simply acknowledge that your child is trying to help, for instance, when he's a toddler and helps you pick up 2 toys while you pick up the remaining 22 toys. Thanks, Emma, you can help clean up too!

Encouragement is a boost of motivation. Your words show that you support, trust, and believe in your child's abilities … even when he can't manage to clean his entire room by himself. It helps them face their stress and fears. 
Your words may motivate them to solve their own problem: 

  • Whatever you decide, I'm behind you.
  • I trust your decision.
  • Knowing you, I'm sure you'll figure it out.
  • You think about it. You'll do fine. 
  • You've made good decisions in the past. 

If you want to reduce a bad behavior, then use the following less positive methods:

1) Positive reinforcement to strengthen an opposite behavior; 
2) Extinction to eliminate any reward for misbehavior, or 
3) Consequence/Punishment.

Example 1:

To reduce a negative attitude, reward any sign of a positive attitude. To reduce the amount of time two siblings argue, call attention to the time when they are getting along. Hey, it's so good to see a brother and sister having fun playing a game together. Add an incentive. We'll all go to your favorite park if you another day without an argument.

Example 2:

Do not give in to your child's demands. Ignore your children (the best you can) when they try to get your attention in a negative way. Prompt a younger child to ask in a nice tone of voice. 

When you are in public, and they cause a scene by screaming for a candy bar, it's best to leave within a half minute of the incident (unless you can calm them down within 30 seconds). Leave the grocery store immediately. Walk them to the car. State in a calm voice that their behavior was not acceptable. Tell them that you will go back to the store later on. Do not specify when. Try it again after a few hours.

Say, We're starting fresh. Begin with a clean slate daily!  Don't remind your child of previous bad behaviors. 

Avoid reminding children of their negative behaviors earlier that day. Be satisfied with the ideal consequence you already gave them for screaming:

  1. Not getting a candy bar when they misbehaved,
  2. Leaving the store immediately, and
  3. Reprimanding them that their behavior was not acceptable. Remember, you're only disappointed in your child's behavior, not your child. Avoid saying anything negative about them being a bad person because that sends the wrong message. The store incident is done. Over. Kaput. End of story.
Now it's time to set up situations for your child to behave well. Our children were not put on this planet to please us or to make us happy. Parents are meant to guide and love, not guilt kids into good behavior. That's like a repressive regime. Total control.

Let's say you decide to go back to the store four hours later. Don't say, Now, we're not going to have another incident at the store where you scream, are we, Joey? His undeveloped brain only hears the words, store, and scream. Inadventertenly, your words set Joey up for failure. Your words echo in their immature minds. He's simply not capable of processing the question the way an adult would understand it. 

They may only process the words scream and store, which only sets Joey up for a repeat performance. Say, We're ready to go to the store now and have a good time. Let's get ready to go. Do you want to bring Teddy along?

Example 3:

An older child who comes home late may be grounded for a day or two. A child who breaks a home rule is confined for a short time period (A timeout). She may be restricted from a particular activity if it's a natural consequence of breaking a rule. 

In short, parents get the best response when they recognize good behaviors & encourage positive movement toward new skills & goals as well as regular chores & activities. Start with the positive and adjust when needed. 

Stay tuned for more parenting tools.


11/08/2017 7:49am

This is such a good advice for new parents. Controlling a child is very tricky. The mistakes made along the way are the best teacher in becoming a good parent. Thank you for highlighting the simple ones out. I hope I can be as good as my parents were to me to my future children.


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