Creating a Positive Home
Family is the foundation of a society. When families are strong, communities are strong, too. How can we create a positive home environment that will build that strong foundation for our families? Here are a few tips.
The ultimate goal of parenting is to teach children to control and discipline themselves. Instead of being an “enforcer” who is always catching a child misbehaving and correcting it, our job is to be a teacher. We are the people who teach appropriate behavior.
Many of us grew up hearing “No! Don’t. Knock it off! Stop it!” While we may have turned out just fine, positive communication techniques actually result in better behavior. Instead of “No” all the time, try using positive directions.
- “You need to touch the kitty gently.” Is a better instruction than “Don’t hit the kitty.”
- “Use your quiet voice,” instead of “No yelling.”
- “You need to hold my hand and walk” instead of “Don’t you dare run away.”
These examples paint a clear picture. Using negative words may stop a behavior right now, but their use doesn’t teach correct behavior. Positive communication does. We assume that young children know what correct behavior is when in reality, they haven’t had a chance to learn that yet. It’s our job as parents to teach them.
Praise and Encourage
With infants and toddlers, you can’t really praise them enough. Tell them when they are doing a good job when they are behaving appropriately and when they have mastered a new skill.
- “Look at you walking! What a good job!”
- “You went potty in the toilet! I’m proud of you!”
- “You colored a beautiful picture!”
As children approach ages 2½ to 3 years, switch some of your praise to encouragement. Encouragement focuses on the process – trying and practicing – rather that the product you end up with. Encouragement also helps the child feel good instead of depending on constant, mindless praise from others.
- “You are trying hard to learn to jump.”
- “You didn’t give up. You kept working on it.”
- “I like all the blue that you are using in your picture.”
- “You must feel proud of yourself.”
These all are good examples of what to say and how we can encourage and reinforce praise of process.
A Positive Message for the Future
When your child behaves inappropriately and you have to give a consequence or punishment, do it in a positive way. Explain what the child did, how it made you feel, and what the child can do differently. Then give them a positive message for the future.
“I asked you to put your bike in the garage and you didn’t listen. If your bike stays outside all night, it might get stolen or ruined by the weather,” you might say. “I feel frustrated when I have to do your job. I love you too much to let you grow up to be irresponsible. You will not be able to ride your bike for two days. I hope this will help you remember next time, and I know that soon you will be able to remember to put your bike away every night.”
Again, this is an example, and your words may differ. But kids thrive on clarity and structure. A short speech like this, consistently delivered when it is needed, can help kids.