You might think some of the most challenging parenting issues would come from the most desperate, at-risk children, the sort of children seen by the experts at Boys Town. Yet Boys Town follows such a positive parenting philosophy: they encourage the families they work with to see the good in every child. They help parents catch children being good.
Looks Like, Sounds Like
Children need concrete examples of expectations. To say, “Be good,” is too vague. To say, “Thank you for getting your homework done” sends a signal that part of being good means doing homework. Tell your child very specifically what “being good” in each situation looks and sounds like:
- “We have to ride for more than an hour in the car to Grandma’s house. We can sing a few songs, you can tell me some of your corny jokes, but you won’t distract the driver or kick the seat, right?”
- “Your Mom and I like how you played so nicely with your sister by sharing toys.”
Too often, harried parents forget to model desired behavior, or to sprinkle praise along with orders. After giving a direction for which you expect full and immediate compliance (“Please put your dirty dishes by the sink”) positive parenting acknowledges the compliance: “Thank you for listening so quickly and getting those dishes off the table.” Find reasons to thank your child throughout the day.
Ignore the Bad
Extinguishing negative behavior can actually also be part of positive parenting, says the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development. Ignore the issue you do not want to have repeated, and immediately praise any behavior that is not that. A child throwing a tantrum will, eventually, run out of energy or breath. Immediately identify the moment: “I like how you are quiet and calm now. Because I love you so much, I enjoy talking to you when you can hear me and when you can speak in a soft voice to me.”
How do you catch your child being good? What praise phrases work in your family? Please leave comments for Kids Konnect below.