There are lots of moments when you are positive when with your child. You tell him you love him. You point out to her what a great job she did. There are hugs at bedtime and kisses to make boo-boos better.
Then there is the rest of the time. Perhaps the majority of the time you are with your children it’s not so positive. When you don’t see another choice but to yell. When it feels like there is nothing to celebrate. When you are so frustrated, you can’t see straight.
What if there was a way to increase the positive moments? A way to shift the challenging moments into something more fun, engaged, and connected.
I’m here to tell you there is a way to do just that! I have helped families do this over and over again. Now it’s your turn, so keep reading.
The first step to building more positive moments is to set your kiddos up for success by telling them what you want to see happen. You know when and where your child has a hard time. Occasionally it’s a surprise, but most often, you could have predicted it.
For those predictable moments, don’t wait for the failure. Before the situation happens, talk to your child about what you want to see and what actions need to happen so that success is possible.
For example, let’s say your small one does not always say “Hi” when guests come over, and this is important to you. Have an ongoing conversation about how to act when guests come over.
Tell him that when the doorbell rings, you run to the door, wait for a grown up to open the door, and then wave or greet the doorbell ringer.
You could even practice it. You stand on one side of a closed door, your kiddo on the other. Knock and walk in. If your child says “Hello” or waves, give him a big hug or tickle. If he does not, walk out the door and try again without much conversation.
Keep trying until he does say “Hi” or wave. Then celebrate with a hug or tickle or song or dance. The celebration is critical for all of you.
When practicing, keep your language action-based. Tell him what you want him to do and what you want him to say; paint the picture.
Also, keep the language positive. If you tell him what you don’t want to see, you leave him guessing what is acceptable behavior. Your clarity of direction is an important component in his success. Don’t talk about the six times that he did it wrong, just talk about the time he got it right!
Then when company comes over, you all will be ready. Simply remind your child of the practice and how great he did. Then open the door and get ready to be excited to visit with your guests and child.
If you’re looking for more tips like this, get Dr. Marcie Beigel’s new book “Love Your Family Again,” available on Amazon.
Dr. Marcie is a behavior specialist based in Brooklyn. Since 1998, she has worked with thousands of clients and is the founder of Behavior and Beyond, a company dedicated to behavior change. She teaches Behavior Bootcamps and Boosts as live events and online, does educational trainings, and counsels individual families.