Are your kids not listening? Complaining? Arguing? Identifying positive behavior vs. negative behavior is a start to solving this problem. Everything we do is a behavior (blinking, itching your arm, stomping your feet on the floor, slapping someone) so it is important to look at these behaviors from a different perspective. Young children’s behavior can be effectively shaped through “Strategic Attention”.
1. Identify behaviors or qualities you want to see.
2. Watch for the desirable behavior. These may be rare at first, but you will find them if you are looking hard.
3. Describe what your child is doing that you like; tell them their good choices. For example, you walked nicely to the door.
4. Praise/reinforce these behaviors when they occur (even if it is only a few seconds at a time). Mix up the praise and positive attention. Don’t always say “good job”. Your child will become desensitized to this phrase if it is the only phrase you are using; it will lose meaning, value, and sincerity. Keep it genuine and exaggerate your reaction! You do want them to continue engaging in this positive behavior, right?
5. Finally, it is helpful to imitate your child’s behavior. “I think I’ll walk nicely to the door too” is an example of imitation.
If your child’s behavior continues to create a challenging home life, please feel free to call today for a mental health assessment and more parenting tips tailored just for your family!
(Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, 1995)