Sunday, May 11, 2008

Have you told your kids how wonderful they are today?

There have been all these studies that have shown that you don’t spoil your child by praising them. It is actually more positive to consistently praise your child for trying then it is for completing the goal. It gives them the confidence to keep trying, improves their self-esteem. The best part is that if we the parents are constantly giving praise for the good things they do, even when they don’t succeed, we are giving them positive attention. They are less likely to act out trying to get any attention. I like that, I can tell my kids how great they are doing and we both win, they feel positive about themselves and don’t go off the deep end trying to get my attention. I feel a lot better being able to tell them they are doing something great then spending all my time trying to get them to behave.

So can you tell I have been taking “The incredible years” course? Our youngest just turned three and suddenly we had this uncontrollable screaming child that nothing would make happy. If her brother has something she has to have the same one he does. The very same one, from his plate or hand. Nothing else will do. She will say; “I want that one!” and point to what ever we were going to hand our son. Some times we would not even know what would set her off, she would just have a full blown tantrum and the more we tried to find out what was wrong the louder and longer the tantrum would become. She would get upset if we tried to comfort her and if we tried to leave her alone. It was a no win situation. We had no idea on how to deal with this sudden behavior change. We called for help and were signed up for the very next “The incredible years” course.

It is working and has improved our lives. Our son is no longer asking if we are bringing her back home from Daycare. He did not want us to. We had to make some big changes on just how we interact with our kids. Most important is that we actually play with them, not just supervise or be available but actually get down on the floor and play. We had to start thinking about what we were saying and what it means to us and what it means to the kids. What does Behave actually mean? We may be asking them not to jump, or to stop hitting each other, or to walk with us in the store, or any number of things but we say, “behave” instead of what we actually want. What does behave mean to a child? If one day we say behave means to not fight with each other, and the next day to stop climbing the couch we should not be surprised if our kids don’t know what we expect from them when we use the word behave.

The most powerful thing we learned though is to tell our kids positive things about themselves all through the day, not just when they have done something perfect. That they are doing something positive is worth praising, even when it is something they do all the time. The more positive things you tell your kids decreases the negative comments and discipline required. By focusing on the behaviors we consider good and ignoring the ones that we consider bad (but not dangerous) the positive behaviors increase, the bad ones decrease. Mind you the negative ones will increase for a bit until they get used to the positive feedback, you just have to make it through the transition and then stay consistent and life with your children should be easer and more fun.

We noticed a change right away, first an increase in the negative and then suddenly a dramatic decrease. Though our daughter is considered difficult and strong willed we have reduced the big tantrums for the most part, and we like that a lot. She is constantly testing us but it is no longer the full-blown wars we were having with her. We don’t feed into it anymore. What has freed us is knowing that we don’t have to win every battle but to pick our battles instead, to acknowledge what we like and ignore for the most part what we don’t. Tantrums don’t last that long if they don’t get the attention, and don’t get their way no matter how much they scream. The more you tell your kids how wonderful they are the more wonderful they actually become.

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