Give kids a thumbs up for the right things
Children of all ages enjoy parental recognition. They like when their parents make a fuss over their behaviour or highlight something they’ve done well.
Sometimes parents will reward their children’s behaviour with a treat, money or a gift. This is okay in small doses, but parental recognition alone is a high enough driver of children’s behaviour most of the time.
Firstborns, in particular, love approval. Youngest children just love that you have noticed them! Second borns can sometimes do things in spite of their parents, but deep down they love the recognition too, even if they don’t let on that they do.
The behaviour you focus on expands
If you want your kids to be neater then focus on their neat behaviours. “You’ve tidied your toys up before dinner. Top job!” You don’t have to throw a party, just let them know that you noticed and you approve of their tidiness. You may also let them know how it affects you. “You’ve tidied your toys up before dinner. It makes my job easier.” The behaviours that you notice and comment on will expand.
Noticing kids’ tidiness once won’t suddenly turn messy kids into exceptionally neat ones, but do it often enough and you’ll start to get some turn around.
You can give kids a thumbs up for all sorts of behaviours. Here’s some examples.
Stubborn kids need a pat on the head when they respond on your terms not theirs.
Nervous and anxious kids need to have their bravery pointed out to them. It’s reassuring and empowering.
Want helpful kids? Then you need to notice helpful behaviours.
Sometimes older siblings need to be very tolerant of younger siblings. Tolerance is a very giving behaviour and should be promoted.
Something to encourage in boys, in particular. It’s often not their strong point.
Let kids know when ‘hanging in there’ pays off. The link between persistence and success is massive but persistence needs to be promoted. It’s also the one factor of temperament that can be affected by parenting.
If your child struggles in social situations then recognise pro-social behaviours such as sharing, initiating contact with another child or taking an interest in another person.
Don’t wait until you get perfect behaviour to give recognition, particularly for very young children. Kids have L-plates when it comes to behaving (co-operatively, bravely, patiently) so their attempts and close approximations need to be verified by the significant adults in their lives – their parents.
Recognising kids’ positive behaviours is easy to do, but it’s also easy not to do. We often get tied up with other things and forget to show appreciation and nurture the behaviours our kids need to develop. It’s important to be aware of this. It’s the little things such as giving positive recognition that have the biggest impact on kids’ development.
Our school has a membership with Parenting Ideas. As part of this membership, you can attend the upcoming webinar ‘Parenting like a cat and dog’ at no cost.
In this webinar, Michael Grose uses cat and dog metaphors to introduce parents to two diverse styles of parenting. This will increase their ability and confidence to manage, nurture and build relationships with their children.
11 November 2020 8:00pm AEDT.
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