My child’s room is always a mess!
He is such a picky eater!
He never helps do anything around the house!
Sound familiar? Do you realize that you could be part of the reason?
No, I’m not saying it’s your fault for you child’s behavior, but there are many actions we take that can cause they very response that we do not want to happen. We tend to focus on the problems and how to fix them. This seems like it should work, however when we focus only on problems, the problems only get bigger.
For example, if we constantly tell our child that he is a messy kid and he can’t keep his room clean, he eventually believes “I’m just a messy kid, that’s the way I am, and I can’t keep my room clean.”
Children are not born knowing how to be responsible or irresponsible. They don’t know which way to go until we reinforce one behavior or the other. Which one do you always reinforce? We may think we are reinforcing responsibility, but not if our child is always hearing how irresponsible he is.
So, what to do? Try these suggestions …
Catch them when they are doing well or when they are NOT misbehaving. We tend to spend our time and energy with out kids when they are misbehaving. Why don’t we mess with them when they are behaving? Maybe we don’t want to mess up a good thing or we finally have a little time to get something done! If your kids have been fighting and then are playing together, that is not the time to say “So now you’re getting along, finally!” Instead simply say, “Looks like you guys are having fun.”
When we continually focus on their misbehavior, they will continue because they are getting what they want in the first place, our time and energy.
Make a conscious decision to look for the positive. This means even in the worst situations, find something, even the littlest thing, that is good and reinforce it.
My son had a big dog named Goober. We nagged and reminded him constantly to feed and take care of his dog that he wanted. One particular time we were having problems with him training Goober. After much nagging, I decided to take my own advice and focus on the positive. We began to work on training and after ten minutes my son went in the house to watch TV. Now I was left with HIS dog and feeling angry! I got my emotions together and went to my son and said “Didn’t Goober do great today?” With that he said, “Yeah, let’s work with him tomorrow!” and he wrote it on the calendar. If I had come in ranting and raving like I wanted to, he would have just blown me off.
Focus on what they are doing well instead of what they are always doing wrong. Once you start consciously looking for the good, you will actually start noticing more good.
Never label. Children become what they hear enough.
- He’s so stubborn
- She’s shy
- He’s our problem child
- He’s a picky eater
- He’ll always be a “C” student
- She’s lazy
Heard enough, your children will except these statements and make the same decision about themselves. We again are reinforcing what we don’t want. Kids believe what we label them. Make sure the life you want for your children is the life you are creating.
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