Parenting today is more challenging than ever. Parents are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated trying to balance all their responsibilities. Here are some tried and true strategies that are positive and effective based on the Triple P: The Positive Parenting Program:
- When you interact with children, give them your full attention or reassure them that you will give them your undivided attention and tell them when that will be. When you take the time to pay attention, it generally takes less time than you anticipated. The child feels heard and valued which increases their sense of self-worth and reduces anti-social behavior (whining, nagging).
- Present information in the positive. Tell children what to do instead of what they are doing that you disapprove. Children tend to focus on the end of a sentence and miss the “no” or “don’t.” For example – “don’t eat the last piece” ends up being heard as “eat the last piece.”
- The key is to ignore undesired behavior until it stops. This is challenging – no doubt about it. However, it does not take too many times for the payoff to reveal itself. If you need to remove yourself from the room to ignore the behavior, do so. As soon as more desirable behaviour begins, lavish your child with your attention.
- Give 2 to 5 minute warning to transition from one activity to another – only one warning! Children need time to process information. Let them know when you’re going to need them to move from watching TV, for example, to getting ready to go out. When asking for a response, give them a reasonable time to process a request (count to 8).
- Household and family ground rules are very important. They are most effective when specific, simply stated, understood by all participants, and consistently followed. It is helpful to have these written out and placed in a prominent place (refrigerator door) for everyone to see. The consequences for broken rules need to be spelled out as well. Creating this “document” can be a fun, creative, family activity. The rules and consequences must apply to everyone in the household – not just the children.
- Ask – Say – Do. Example: “What do we do with the toys when we are done playing? We put them back in the toy box.” Assist them with the task. “Thank you for putting the toys away!”
- Discipline without escalating aggression. Stay calm and keep it together (modeling) when you are upset. If you get upset when they are upset, the upset escalates.
For minor misbehavior, give them time out by sitting them in the area where the misbehavior took place. Remember to ignore misbehavior and once the child has sat for even 2 minutes quietly reward them by congratulating them on sitting quietly for 2 minutes. You don’t want your child to feel bad for misbehavior but rather you want them to learn appropriate behavior.
- Provide descriptive praise – praise that describes the desired behavior (reinforcement). Instead of “Good job!” try “Good job putting all the toys away!” It lets the child know that you were paying attention when they were engaged in desirable behavior.
- Logical consequences are one of the best teaching strategies. If the household rule is that dirty laundry goes in the hall basket and a child does not bother to put their dirty laundry in the basket, do not remind, do not pick up their laundry, and do not wash their clothes. They can pick their cleanest dirty clothes to wear until the next laundry gets done.
There is a variety of parenting programs available in our community. If you are challenged by your child’s behavior, access one of these programs to help you learn effective strategies which will encourage desirable behaviour and dramatically reduce conflicts in the home.