Catch ’em being good.
I first read about this idea in the book Honey, I Wrecked the Kids by Alyson Schafer. Have I mentioned I love her books?!
Anyway, the idea is really simple – pay LOTS of attention to those behaviours you want repeated.
Makes sense, right? So why the heck wasn’t I doing this?!
I noticed I was REALLY good at telling my toddler everything I didn’t like about his behaviour while never showing my appreciation for all the ‘good’ things he was doing.
That couldn’t have felt very nice for him.
And what incentive did it give him to behave? None!
Why would he sit and play quietly with his tractors when smashing them into the coffee table made me stop everything and give him my full attention?! Pretty genius, actually. He did have a 100% success rate after all.
When I noticed this I pulled the big switcheroo. I started commenting on all the behaviours I wanted to see more of and tried my best to ignore as many of the minor infractions as I could.
I tried to be as specific as possible. Instead of my usual “Good job!” I’d say things like,
“Thanks for putting all the blocks back in the basket; cleaning up goes so much faster when we work together!” or
“I really enjoyed our lunch together.”
What a difference!
His confidence seemed to improve overnight.
One thing I must warn you about – when I started trying this I felt like a robot. The words seemed foreign when I was used to saying, “Good job!” or “You’re awesome!” I now found myself half way through a sentence struggling for the right words.
The more I practiced, the easier it got.
Now one of my favourite parts of the day is when I casually start telling my husband about all the positive things our toddler did that day. I always make sure to do this when our toddler’s in earshot.
I’ll say things like, “He cleared all his plates after lunch – without being asked!” or “You should have seen him give his little brother a hug after bonking his head – he was so careful and gentle!”
My son LOVES overhearing these types of comments.
It makes me smile even thinking about it 🙂
So give it a try – did you like how patiently your child waited in line at the grocery store?
And be specific.
You could say something like, “Wow – that was a long line! I appreciate your patience.”
I can guarantee it will feel weird at first, but the more you practice the better you’ll get. Before you know it you’ll be dishing out positive feedback waaaay more than giving corrections or scolding.
Warm fuzzies all ’round 🙂
Image Credit: Juliana Coutinho