Thursday, April 9, 2015

5 Ways to Encourage Behavior You WANT to See

There's days in our house where I feel like such a nagger and negative Nelly. But it always seems if our day starts on a sour note, it all just goes downhill from there and we're having a scene from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day. Sometimes, I feel like a broken record- "Sophia, pick up your toys, Saidey, don't pick up your nose, Will, pick up your dirty socks." And a lot of times I feel like a shadow, following everyone and trying to restore order. It is SO easy to get sucked into a negative attitude and before you know it, we're all flustered and frustrated with one another.

As someone who has worked in childcare and now back in the early childhood field once again, I've learned a few strategies that have helped me gain positive behavior in my kids (and husband) but shhh.. don't tell him that!

For those of you who grimace at the thought of every single kid on the T-ball team receiving an award for just being on the team- bare with me, here. This is one of the most effective strategies I have found. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't throw Sophia a party for going to the bathroom but when she is doing a great job- I let her know. Loudly. And I go overboard. I don't just flippantly say "good job" at every little thing. I get on her level and specifically point out the thing she did. I say, "I like how you picked up your shoes- that helps me out a lot," for example. Little signs of praise are great too- a thumbs up and high fives are quick but effective ways to reinforce the behavior you want to see. 

Focus on the Positive
Like I said before, it's really easy to get stuck on the negative. Sometimes, we focus so much on it, our kids start to pick up that it is the only time they get attention from us. Not to say that if she does something she isn't supposed to that I let it slide, quite the opposite. But, what I do, is, keep it short, keep it simple with as little reaction as possible and give it as little attention. I (try to) remain calm, firm and consistent. But agian, when she is doing a great job, I REALLY focus on that.

Establish house rules
We have unwritten house rules that really need to get posted somewhere visible in our house. One of these unwritten rules is "be respectful." When Sophia is doing something that doesn't align with this rule, I can remind her of the rule. I've also had to teach her what being respectful is and I do this by reinforcing respectful behavior. (PRAISE!) For example, "Sophia, I really like how you listened to me the first time, that's being respectful." Another big rule at our house is "be responsible." I can usually always connect a behavior with a rule and reinforce the behavior by praising.

Quality time together
Make it a priority to spend time with your kiddos. It's all about quality versus quantity. Get down on the floor and play. Spending quality time with them will fulfill their want for attention, decreasing the chances they will try to seek your attention in negative ways! 

This can be tied back to spending quality time together but especially when you find your house a mess, the kids are whiny and you're thinking that it must be 5:00 somewhere- the best thing you can do is just stop. Breathe. And get down on the floor and play. The best stress reliever sometimes, can just be letting loose and playing with your kids. This gets everyone recharged and then you can focus on getting all those other tasks done. Laugh with your kids and simply enjoy them. 

So, there are my five tips on encouraging positive behavior! And remember, kids have bad days too! 

See how well I'm doing with this one so far?! :)

Aaaand.. the aftermath! Good thing she's small- I can just pick her right up! :)