Encouraging Positive Behavior, Forming Good Habits and Strengthening the Bond With Your Kids.
1. Use positive reinforcement. We have all heard this several times, some how it has worked the best for me when I'm not lazy. When I am willing to be proactive and not just sit back till the incident happens it is a lot easier to break bad habits. Several of my kids have had bad habits thru the years, and will continue to.
At younger ages I would set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer would go off if that child hadn't done that bad habit (i.e. bite, hit, yell, have an accident, etc.) then they would get a reward. Usually something small is efficient, like 1 skittle, a sticker or so on. I find this works better than just waiting for them to do the "wrong" thing and then discipline them like time-out. For older kids I usually do a reward for going all day being allowed 1 or 2 warnings.
2. Rewards don't always have to be candy. I am the candy queen, I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Kids don't always want or need sweet treats for rewards. Kids really just want our attention usually more than anything. A lot of the time that is why they are acting out in the first place. Try rewards like 15 more minutes of reading, an extra book with mom or dad at bedtime, getting to pick out the movie for movie night, or 15 minutes of an activity with mom/dad of their choice is usually a good one. Kids want to do puzzles, play-doh, barbies, and other play activities with us. Use it as a reward or bonus.
3. I recently read this article on pinterest that suggested several good things. My favorite being this, "I just told you my answer, do you have a question about it?" or "I know you want my answer to be different but it won't change." This helps with those long drawn out repetitive conversations and fights we have with our children. This way they can still feel like they can express themselves, feel validated but you can clarify and stand your ground.
4. Kids, like us just want to feel validated. Have you ever gotten upset when you have expressed yourself and someone has pretty much replied, " No you haven't." We don't like people telling us how we feel or how we don't, why do it to our kids? For example have you ever said, "Your not scared," "It's not that bad," or when you make it about you and not them anymore. I try to not tell my kids how they feel, but either discover a better word for it or a way to fix it.
A good example is when the kid comes in expressing they are scared. Sometimes I ask them, "Are you really scared or are you just bored and lonely?" Partially so they understand the difference between them. Kind of like in the book The Giver if you have ever read it. The other is to validate what they are expressing and how they feel. If I had just replied the usual, "No your not, go back to bed," all I did was say I don't care how you feel and your lying. How does that help me strengthen the relationship with my child? My other response is, "How can I help with that?" Not meant in a sarcastic way, but I try to tech them that I can't take their fear away. I can give suggestions, but ultimately I can't be the one to remove any fears they have.
5. Be more patient. One thing that I noticed is that I do one thing and have a different expectation from my kids. My favorite is when my kids ask for something, and I respond, "In a minute I'm ______." Pick a reason, on the phone, doing dishes, going potty, reading something, etc. We are constantly asking our kids to be patient and to wait on us to finish up something before we assist them. Why is it then when we want our kids and they want to finish their chapter or level or show we respond, "No, right now!" We make our kids wait for us all the time, but have no patience when we could wait for them. I'm not saying that we should allow them that time all the time, there is importance in obeying your parents. I have however started to actually check how many minutes are left to their episode. Oh only 4 minutes, I can allow that. Sometimes I try 5 minutes or when you beat the level which ever comes first. Lead by example. If you want your kids to patiently wait for you every now and then, then try to do the same for them.
Bonus- This is the best gold nugget of them all and was given to me by a dear friend, that I will never forget. Have you ever wanted your husband to be the one to take the initiative to start family prayer, or get the kids rounded up in the car, or for family time? This is how you do it non-naggingly. You yell this to your kids, "Kids, dad's going to call you to scripture time," or "Dad's going to tell you guys it's time to get on shoes and socks," Or even "Okay kids listen because dad is going to ask you to gather for family time." Then you turn to your husband and say, "Honey it's time for you to call the kids for family time (or scriptures, or to get in the car, wash up for dinner, or so on.)" Do so cheerfully and excited. Over time the habit will start and one day your husband will just call everyone for family prayer without you asking. Oh what a glorious moment it will be, I promise!
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