[For previous posts on Family Identity, Respect, Education and Limit-Setting, click on the links you see here.]
Kids will do anything for attention, even if it has to be negative attention. In my experience with my own two children, as well as a couple hundred behaviorally-disordered adolescents, I will say unequivocally that the best tool of discipline is praise; catching a child being good and positively reinforcing that behavior is the most effective way to get your child to behave the way you want them to. When you praise a child, pretty soon they see themselves as good, smart, and kind. They want to please you, and they will do everything to do so. Conversely, when you describe a child using terms such as lazy, hyper, or sneaky, they identify themselves as such, and those kinds of labels stick a lot longer than the positive ones, for some reason. If you're of the "Don't teach them to value external approval," philosophy (and I am), you can frame your positive reinforcement another way. For example, instead of saying, "You're such a good boy," you could ask, "How did that feel when Grandma thanked you for your help??" Teach them that there is a connection between their actions and how they feel.
Kids know when they deserve praise or not. If you are praising them overly so, they begin to wonder why you have to go so overboard; maybe they aren't as great as you claim? Kids just aren't stupid. Be sincere about your praise, and let your child hear you talking to someone else about the kind of kid they are (cares about other people, listens very well, etc.) Don't worry about mistakes they may have made even that day; just reinforce their good behavior, and they will repeat it.
Especially when the kids were younger, but once in while now, we have "One-on-Ones" with our kids. We each take a kid and do something with them. When it's me with Kyle today, we usually go to a movie, but back in the day, we'd go out to eat, Bay Beach, bell-ringing, library, out for ice cream, fishing. We've also done things as simple as planting some flowers, tossing a football, cooking, swimming, taking a walk, etc. The important thing with a one-on-one is just that you spend the time giving your child your undivided attention, without your other kids. My kids would tell you this is one of the best things they've loved from their childhoods.
Yes, I know many of you have more than two kids. You could do like the Duggar's do, and have the other kids take each other as partners in one-on-ones, taking turns doing what the other wants to do. Another way to institute some one-on-one time is to just set aside a certain time each day that you have 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your child, doing whatever they want to do. You can call it "Joey Time" or One-on-One time. I guarantee you, if you make this time, and give your child your undivided attention, he/she will value it a great deal and will behave better because you are showing how special they are to you.
I said I would write a post about sibling rivalry, and I can, but I believe firmly that if you follow the principles in this post, you will have less sibling rivalry, because sibling rivalry is about needs not being met. It's about needs for attention, structure, and limits.
What do you think? Are these post any good? Useful? Should I keep doing them or quit? Questions? Comments?
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