There is no mistaking it, sometimes parenting is a tough job! It feels hard to balance the desire to lift your child up and make them feel good with setting clear limits and expectations of their behaviors. Positive and effective discipline techniques allow you as a parent to instill a sense of responsibility in your child while still nurturing self-esteem and your parent-child relationship.
Try these 3 simple tips to increase the effectiveness of your positive parenting skills:
1. Be as specific as possible.
Whenever you are giving feedback to your child, whether complimenting a positive behavior or giving a consequence, BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE. Refrain from statements such as “I like when you’re a good girl,” or “You are being bad.” Focus on ONE specific behavior instead, for example “I like how you are using your inside voice” or “It’s not okay to hit your brother.” When you focus on behavior rather than character, you help your child feel less shame. Remember, guilt is what you feel after you DO something bad, shame is what you feel when you think ARE something bad. We want children to learn limits without feeling ashamed and we cultivate that by focusing on the specific behavior we want to change.
2. Focus on the positive.
Children (and adults) repeat behavior that gets them attention. Focus on the positive, celebrate the positive, reward the positive! Point out when your child is doing something right (and be specific): “I like how you put your dish in the dishwasher” or “Thank you for picking up your toys when you were finished.” Celebrate the positive behavior with a smile! Reward the behavior with a high five. Praise the OPPOSITE of the behavior you want to change (“You used your words and did not hit! Great Job!”) Celebrate the good that is already occurring, and you may find that more positive begins to shine through your child’s behavior.
3. Make sure the consequence is logical.
There will be times that your child’s behavior will require a consequence. Make sure the consequence is logical for the behavior you are trying to decrease. For example, if the child is misusing a toy, take away the toy the child is misusing for a set period of time (i.e., one day) and then return the item. If the child misuses the toy again, increase the amount of time that the toy is taken. When we over consequence (for example: taking all the toys for misuse of one, taking the toy for an extended period of time with no plan to return it), the child loses motivation to improve the behavior to get the toy returned. If your child is older, for example, and loses privileges due to poor grades, make a plan with the child of how they can earn specific privileges back. For example, if you take away their electronics and privilege to go to friends’ houses, be clear with them on what they need to do (ex. Raise all failing grades to C’s to earn their electronics back, B’s to be able to go to a friend’s house again). Remember to be specific and logical in your consequences.
Unsure how to implement these tips into your toolbox of parenting skills or how to effectively follow through with them? At Baltimore Washington Counseling Center and Training Institute, we have many skilled therapists with expertise in parenting who would love to help you implement these skills and improve your parenting effectiveness with your child. If you are interested in help with parenting, request an appointment today.
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