Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Speak Kid: Phrase Your Redirection in the Positive

This post is part of a series I'm starting on my blog called "How to Speak Kid," about how to talk to your kids so that they'll (hopefully) listen, do what you ask, and grow up to be pretty cool people while they're at it. I'm not promising magic, but hopefully it'll give you some new tools for your parenting toolbox. As a mother of 3 and a full-time teacher, I'm always on the lookout myself for new ways to manage behavior and understand kids!

Today's Tip: When correcting behavior, make sure you tell your kids what you WANT them to do, not just what you DON'T want them to do!

As parents, each day we have many delightful opportunities to redirect our kids' behavior. It's important to be careful that we're phrasing our redirection in the positive, so that our kids know what it is we DO want, rather than just being told to stop a behavior. A toddler, particularly, doesn't always have the developmental capacity to replace the behavior with a different one without some help. 

When you tell your daughter, "Don't run in the road!" sometimes the only phrase left rattling around in her head is, "Run in the road! Run in the road! Run in the road!" Instead, if she hears the phrase, "You need to stay on the sidewalk!" then the phrase in her brain is "Stay on the sidewalk! Stay on the sidewalk!" and she is then able to adjust her behavior more quickly when she knows what it is she should be doing. This is especially important when you're redirecting on the fly, and you're expecting a change of behavior within seconds. If you expect a kid to change their behavior that quickly, help them out a little and let them know the best way to do it.

It seems instinctual to adults, but sometimes when we say things like, "Don't hit! Stop running! Stop being rough with your brother! Don't color that wall! Don't leave your bike right there!" etc., a child simply cannot come up with an appropriate replacement behavior on their own. And that's where we come in as parents. It's not that you can't tell your kid not to do something, but just make sure that along with it, you include the behavior that you DO expect. 

I can just hear people saying, "Well, they should know what I expect!" Should they? Do they? Maybe. I don't know. When was the last time you were 3? Regardless, it's more helpful to phrase your expectations positively. Focus on the behavior that you expect and want to see, communicate that, make it a part of your daily conversation, and hopefully you'll see some positive changes! This, for me, is one of the tools in my parenting toolbox that elicits positive change most reliably. And it's an easy one. Can't beat that.

Other posts about How to Speak Kid:

Pin It!

No comments: