I’m sure as you’ve read the previous two articles covering this topic, you’ve realized that you are already doing many things which fall into the ‘positive parenting’ realm. My intention was to offer you a range (19 in fact!) so that you can add a few more to your Parenting Toolkit! Let’s continue…..
10 Provide Incidental Teaching: When you are playing blocks with them, mention the colour names; when making a salad, tell them what you are doing and see if they’d like to help; when crossing the road, explain why you look both ways, and why they need to hold your hand. Almost every situation is an opportunity to share a simple fact with them – not to overload point, just a bit of information.
11 Clear Ground Rules: Keep rules simple. Have just a few general ones rather than a l-o-n-g list (which no-one can stick to!) Rules might be things like We don’t hurt people; We are careful with others possessions; and We speak ‘nicely’… change the wording to suit the age of the child.
12 Prompt attention to not following the rules: When there is an issue or problem regarding rules or behaviour, it needs to be dealt with promptly – especially with younger children. It’s a bit like coming home from work in the evening and seeing that you dog has dug up your garden bed. There’s no real point in growling at them now, when they may have done it at 10am.
13 Clear simple instructions: Often we confuse our children (and sometimes our partners!) by over talking. Rather than: ‘ I need somebody’s help with dinner’ – instead say: ‘Anna please set the table and Luke peel the potatoes please.’ This way no-one is in doubt as to who does what!
14 Logical Consequences: If Jasmine spills the milk, it is not logical to send her to her room. It is logical to get her to help clean up the mess. If Jason wrecks his sisters lego construction it is not logical to send him to bed early. It is logical to get him to re-build the construction according to his sister’s instructions.
15 Quiet time: Spend some time with your child where you do or play something quiet – it could be blowing bubbles, listening to the rain, lying on the grass and watching the clouds move, or each reading your own books whilst lying next to each other. Quiet time helps ‘balance’ us when we are generally so busy, active and live in a ‘noisy’ world. When you do it with your child, it draws you together.
16 Establish routines: Children learn ‘how’ things work best through a consistent routine. For example “the bed-time routine’ = bath, dinner, teeth brushing, bed with stories, cuddle, lights out. When this pattern is repeated daily by all the adults who care for them, they quickly learn it. They may not always like it, but they do understand what’s going to happen. You might have routines around getting ready for school, or for household jobs etc.
17 Behaviour charts: These can be a useful tool in your Parental Toolkit, when they are used correctly. They are used to help the child work on one or two behaviours or actions. This must be broken done in simple steps eg ‘I eat breakfast. I get dressed for school.’ OR ‘I put my dirty clothes in the wash basket. I hang up my wet towel.’ The idea behind Behaviour Charts is about ‘success’ not ‘punishment’. Each morning (for the first example) or evening (for the second example) the child receives a sticker to add to the chart if they have completed the task – without you reminding them. If they don’t get the sticker there is no hassling them… just say: ‘I know you can do it tomorrow’. The idea is about encouraging them to achieve. If we look at doing it for a week, there may be a reward if the child gets 8 or 9 stickers. You don’t make it 14 stickers as that’s near impossible. Next week make it 10 stickers. Behaviour (or Reward) Charts should only be used for 2 weeks. If there hasn’t been a change, then maybe the goal needs to be broken down into small parts.
And finally, my mantra to all parents is: Calm and Consistent – these really are the crux of great parenting!
18 Stay calm: You’ll get a better response rate when you speak calmly to a child – even when disciplining them. Who wants to listen to anyone yelling at them?
19 Be consistent: Consistency of rules and consequences; and of routines, makes for development of trust between parent and child – ie ‘I know what to expect’.
Have fun playing with the many ways of Positive Parenting!