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Child Behavior Tips

Small Steps Lead to Successful Change

Behavioral psychologists have taught us that behaviors are formed by linking many small behaviors together. Helping your child develop new skills or replace old habits is a matter of breaking down the desired behavior into several small tasks, acknowledging and rewarding with praise the child's success at each step, and finally recognizing that those small learning experiences have developed into a desired behavior.

Watch the Falling Spoon

 How many times will you pick up your baby's dropped spoon? All parents know too well this time honored game with our young ones. But do you realize that developmental training is occuring before your eyes. Your baby's eyes too are following that spoon to the floor. Recognizing that letting go causes gravity to take over, the baby is also developing his/her understanding of conservation, the awareness that objects have constancy. So next time you feel frustrated by the little game of "pick-up," enjoy the moment through the eyes of your child.

Behavior is a Language All its Own

By observing a child's behavior an effective parent can learn to "read" the meaning of that behavior and increase the chances of meeting that child's unspoken request.

Referee The Fights

 A common question of parents is... "What do I do when my kids argue?" Try the referee approach by echoing their complaints. It goes like this... Mom, Nicole is hitting me, you say, Nicole, Ben says you are hitting him. When Ben says, Yea but, she was trying to trip me, you say, Nicole says you were trying to trip her. Continue echoing the children's statements until the whole argument reduces to silliness...remember just echo their words and remain lightsided with the experience. They will both see the pointlessness of the whole argument.

Getting Kids To Listen

Has your child seem to have become 'parent deaf' ?? Here is an idea... Next time you need to make your point...lower your voice. Your change is tone will increase their focus on what you are saying. Other suggestions include finding a quiet time, usually bedtime, to share private thoughts and concerns. Many children also seem to especially like to get a written note from a parent. The note always receives special attention.

Strong Willed Children

 "That child is so strong willed...", is a comment sometimes heard by a frustrated parent. We have found, however, that the oppositional child is often just bored. Giving your kids positive outlets for their energy and positive responses to their appropriate behavior can shift that negative energy. Especially as the weather improves... get the kids outside... and don't forget to use a little humor while being a little less confrontational.

Competing Kids

With many of us watching the 1996 Summer Olympics it seems appropriate to remember we need to focus our love for our children on who they are... not what they accomplish... Kids need to know they are loved for just being themselves... When parents praise only for accomplishments like good grades or sports trophies... a child may not feel valued for who she/he is... but for what one does.. Increase your children's self-esteem simply by loving them for being themselves...

Children Love Encourgement

 In his book, Children: The Challenge, Rudolf Dreikurs reminds us that, "Children need encouragement like a plant needs water." While children certainly benefit from those positive reinforcements the behaviorists are always hoping we parents will use... Children also love to feel the acceptance for who they are, not just what they do. Remeber to support your child's dreams and promote their ideas to others in the family. Give the kids the kind of encouragement we all need to risk starting that new sport, that new project, meeting that new friend, talking with others about new ideas.

More on Kids and Choice

Adulthood consists of one choice after another. Making good decisions is linked directly to the development of responsibility. Therefore, a child who is told what to do all the time never has the chance to test her/his ability to make informed choices... Here is one "choice building" idea... Instead of always having to assign chores to kids, make a list of everything that needs to be done, call a family meeting and decide who will be responsible for each task. Involving kids in the process, making them part of the team, creates a sense of personal value and gives them practical experience at problem solving.

Inspiration Through Self-Esteem
  In keeping with our theme of inspiring our kids... it is vital to remember how children are always watching and learning from us as parents. Our self-esteem, therefore, has a huge influence. Remembering that self-esteem is our "immune system", helping us to fight off the problems of life, providing us with strength and renewed energy, keeping our confidence and self-respect in tact. As a role model, remember your children look to you to learn self-respect and self-control. What children view at home is what they believe is right. Develop positive self-esteem and be an inspiration to your kids.
Help Your Child To Hold the Horses
  My father used to tell me to "hold your horses" when I was a child and would interrupt. Some parents react to their child's interruptions by screaming "STOP INTERRUPTING ME!" Another approach is to simply raise your index finger as if to say "Wait" and continue your conversation just a few more words, then turn to your child and say, "Thank you for waiting, what do you need?" (labeling the desired behavior), This response non-verbally teaches your child to wait while also communicating that you will respond to the appropriate behavior by your child. Be sure not to make the child wait too long or you will only teach them to interrupt again.
Read the next parenting article on child self esteem tips >>
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