Do you find yourself often criticizing or yelling at your kids? Are you frustrated when they don't listen? Mighty Mommy shares 5 tips to make your discipline approach more positive and effective.
Tip #4: Don’t Threaten Isolation
In my 25 years of parenting, one of the most widely-used and controversial methods of discipline has been the time out. I've used this technique a handful of times and can attest to its limited benefits, specifically when you need to remove a child from a toxic situation so he could cool down. However, recent studies are showing that isolating a child when trying to teach him right from wrong is not necessarily the way to go.
I agreed with writer David Marquet's Forbes article 5 Things Good Parents Never Say to Their Children. Marquet explains that when you threaten your child with isolation as a consequence for bad behavior, it could backfire. He writes: “This is a threat that makes children feel unsafe and is particularly malicious as a punishment because it teaches that isolation is a legitimate response to something you don’t like. This sets kids up to be adults who practice 'the silent treatment,' or otherwise withhold love, which is particularly harmful to relationships.”
A more positive approach to handle unwelcome behavior is to calmly discuss the problem with the child and ask why he’s feeling angry. Or, if the child is younger, redirect the child to another task that will remove him from the issue, but not sequester him to a remote location that could leave him feeling betrayed and frustrated.
Tip #5: Catch Them Doing Good
This is one of my favorite strategies when it comes to children’s behavior. Our tendency is to focus on what’s wrong or what our child is not doing, but this approach is inherently negative.
About 15 years the teachers at my kids' elementary school implemented a new system called “Getting Caught.” But the key was that teachers would be on the lookout for good things the students were doing. They'd "catch them in the act" and give them a written citation explaining the good behavior.
These included a teacher observing a student befriending a new kid on the playground, or a child sharing his snack with someone who didn’t have one that day. It might’ve been noticing a child who exhibited a lot of patience waiting in a long line or a child who raised his hand insted of interrupting. One thing was for sure—the majority of the students wanted to rise to the occasion and practice good behavior because it felt great to be noticed for something positive.
That new policy made a big impression on me and ever since then, I have implemented the strategy in my home. I’m genuine with my praise when one of my kids does something good (especially if he or she has had trouble with it in the past). My consistent praise for good actions has rubbed off on my kids in how they treat their siblings and friends.
So catch your kids in the act of doing something good and them let them know it! (Again, this works for spouses too).
How do you keep things more positive in your parenting life?
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