Making Positive Behavior Changes

Good tips for parents.

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  • Ignore negative behavior. Children generally exhibit negative behaviors for attention. By becoming angry, annoyed, or reacting to these behaviors, you are satisfying their intention. Unless their actions are harmful to themselves or someone else, ignore them.
  • Reward positive behaviors. Each time a child does what you have asked without whining or helps out around the house without being asked, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate and recognize their behavior. If they just ignored someone displaying negative behavior, never say, “I’m glad you don’t act like HIM.” This only produces more behaviors in the other child. Rewards can be hugs, they don’t have to be monetary.
  • Be someone to trust. By not reacting negatively each time bad news is received or a child tests the boundaries, children will begin to view you and your home as “safe.” In their pasts, these children have not known many safe people– let it begin with you. Try to be empathetic to their concerns. Try not to be surprised with the news; instead praise them for coming to you. Laugh more and gasp less!
  • Always be on the lookout for positive behaviors. Many of us tend to hear or see negative behavior long before our children realize we are paying attention. Start using your extrasensory radars to pick up only positive behaviors. As soon as you notice these behaviors, immediately reward them, letting them know you noticed the effort.
  • It is your responsibility to teach appropriate behavior. When a child demonstrates negative behavior, do not see this an a need for you to “teach them a lesson.” Instead, see it as your responsibility to show them how you would act in that instance and talk about a positive reaction they could demonstrate.
  • Do not let your mood affect your parenting skills. One of the hardest things about being a parent is not letting outside events affect the way we react to our children. Have your own support system of adults to talk to when you have had a bad day, so the tension is not released on the children. Remain objective and know when to say, “Mom needs a timeout for ten minutes.”
  • Accept the truth and forgive the lie. If you have a child that prefers to lie instead of telling the truth, they may be avoiding your reaction to the truth. Practice bracing yourself to remain calm no matter what the news is they share. Be sure to praise them for telling you the truth– do not become irate and do not punish.
  • Do not over-punish or over-correct. Parents tend to lecture longer than needed or add on extra punishments to prove a point. If a drink is spilled on the floor, the child could be responsible for cleaning the spill, but not mopping the entire kitchen floor. Nothing is being learned, and you could actually be inviting the child to lie or display more negative behavior.
  • Do not coerce children into behaving the way you want. Coercing can be telling a child to “Behave or else,” or using several other methods when trying to make a child change their behavior. This only produces short-term compliance, but is followed by long-term losses. They should learn to behave better for their own sake, not yours.
  • Avoid, escape, get even. When confronted with negative parenting, children will first avoid the situation, escape from the area, then eventually try to get even. By always using positive parenting and setting aside your traditional discipline tactics, we no longer cause this reaction.
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