Did you know that studies have shown that on average, a child hears 432 negative comments per day versus 32 positive ones? How many times do you REACT negatively toward your kids in a day? How many times do you ACT positively towards your kids in a day? It's much more effective to look for ways to catch our kids doing something right - no matter how small! Make a point of finding SOMETHING to praise your kids for every day. Look for excuses to offer praise and rewards, and you will find that you are "growing" more of the good behaviours you would like to see. Many times our kids are told, "Don't run in the house!", "Don't leave your towel on the floor!", "Don't hit your sister!", without being given anything higher to aspire to. If you tell a child, "Don't touch that painting!", what do you think is forefront in that child's mind? Touching that painting of course!
Sometimes we have to re-train ourselves. I'm not suggesting we do away with all discipline alltogether, but maybe we can change our "default" settings of how we REACT. So what can we do instead? Practice using "DO" commands:
Calmly state what you want your child to DO. Rather than "Don't chew with your mouth open!", try, "Please try to make your lips touch each other when your chewing." Rather than "Don't run in the house!", try, "Please use your walking feet in the house". It's the same message, but clearer for the child to understand, and gives them a behaviour to aspire to. Find ways to say "YES!":
Rather than responding, "NO, we can't go to the park today.", try, "The park sounds great! Would you rather go Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning?" Rather than saying, "We're not going anywhere until your room is clean!", try, "When your room is tidy, we can leave to go to your friend's house." This gives them a positive goal to work towards, rather than the emphasis being on, "We're not going anywhere." Thank them in advance: This may require a small leap of faith on your part, but, for example, instead of saying, "Don't leave your dishes on the bench!", try, "Thanks for taking the time to put your dishes in the dishwasher tonight." This reinforces what you want them to do, and the assumption is that that they will make the correct choice. This reinforces the value of trustworthiness in them, and empowers them to strive for more appropriate behaviours. To make these changes to the way you communicate with your kids may take some conscious effort, but the effort will be worth it. Your kids will feel more encouraged, and they'll develop a positive, empowered perception of themselves, and the culture in your household will start to positively change!