Last week we started delving into the many ways that you can show positivity in your parenting.
We looked at:
- Spend quality time
- Talk with your child
- Listen to your child
- Show affection
Give Descriptive Praise. Often we acknowledge our children’s actions, we say: “good boy” or “you’re such a good girl”, without actually telling the child what specifically they did which was ‘good’. Is it because in the last few minutes they helped their sister pick up the toys, because they put them in the right place, or because they did it without being told????
If I say to you know: ‘You’re such a good parent’… what does that mean? Is it because you speak gently to your children? Or because you read to them each night? Or because you provide nutritious food to them? Or because you show them affection?
Praise is more readily understood and accepted when it is specific. Tell them exactly what they did ‘good’ eg It’s so helpful when you put your toys away’ or I like it when you two play nicely together’. Now the child knows the actual behavior or action they did… and as a result of your praise or acknowledgement, they may try to do it again.
Give Focused Attention. Whether we are talking with our children, playing with them, praising them, or talking to them about poor behavior, it’s important that you are focused on them. By that I mean that you are at eye level (not towering over them), using a calm voice, and you aren’t distracted by the phone, the dog barking or what’s on the TV. I know you will have experienced, as I have… talking with someone, and they turn to look at a message which has just come in on their phone… but then they to you: ‘Oh I’m still listening’. It doesn’t feel like it, does it? When people focus on what we have to say, or what we are doing, we can feel loved or that they really care about us, and are interested in what we are doing. Focused attention makes a huge difference!
Play with them. I’ve often heard parents say two phrases… “He’s got a room full of toys, but he never plays with them” or “She’s got so much, but she still tells me she’s bored.”
The news is…. That you do not need to buy them more toys at all! In fact, there’s one favourite toys above all…. YOU! Those toys that they never play with will suddenly be interesting if you start playing with them!
Children’s favourite toy is you!
So, make the time to play with them, because it’s so much more than just play… again it tells children you love them, that you enjoy spending time with them and that they are ‘worth’ spending time with – so important to a child’s growing sense of self and self-esteem.
Provide engaging activities. Just about any activity can be ‘engaging’…. by ‘engaging’ I mean that YOU (the parent or carer) are involved with the child. It might be through play eg blocks, or balls, or dress-ups, but equally so can be through jobs around the house – feeding the dog, hanging the wet clothes on the line, wiping the table down, washing the car or setting the table for dinner. Teach your child to do these things at an early age, by allowing them to ‘help’ you. We all know that a 3 yr old won’t wipe the table as well as us (generally!) but, they are learning that:
- we value them
- we believe they can do it
- we like their company and
- we appreciate their help!
All this involves us engaging with the child through dialogue, praise and making chores ‘fun’!
Be a good role model. I’ve written before about the fact that our young children are almost like little sponges… they soak up everything around them. Our children will copy our words, our behaviours and the way we treat other people. So, watch both what you say and the way in which you speak to them and to others. Think about how you behave – do you respond to situations or ‘react’ – maybe inappropriately? And, think about the way you treat others. Remember little eyes and ears are there!
You don’t have to be perfect – a ‘perfect’ parent has never existed, but there are plenty of ‘good’ ones!
We’ll complete the 19 ways next week, with the final 6.
In the meantime….
Happy Positive Parenting!
- Provide incidental teaching
- Clear ground rules
- Prompt attention to not following rules
- Clear, simple instructions
- Logical consequences
- Quite time