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Correcting Children’s Behavior: A Positive Parenting Approach

As a parent do you ever feel as though you are constantly telling your child what not to do?  “Don’t run in the house,” “Stop fighting with your brother,” or “I said to clean your room already, why aren’t you listening to me?”

If these statements or something similar to these statements resonate with how you feel at home, know that you aren’t alone.

Often, we get into a toxic cycle of consistently pointing out what is frustrating us with our children.  We often forget that, after all, they are just children.  Sometimes we feel like we are always having to correct them and that nothing is ever sinking in.

Remember, their brains are growing, and they don’t perceive everything we tell them the way that we would like them to.  As such, when we tell kids what we don’t want them to do anymore, what are they supposed to do instead?

Take a step back and imagine a time that your child was “the perfect child.”  What was your child doing?  Using manners?  Thinking before acting?  Being polite?  Using their inside voice?  Engaging in play with their sibling(s) or friends that didn’t require an adult to step in and settle a fight?  What did you do to tell your child about the behaviors that they did well?

All too often we focus on what they shouldn’t do and are negligent at pointing out what they need to start doing or what they need to keep doing.  Taking time to notice the good things your child does and point these things out to her is extremely important.  Also, the next time you go to correct your child, try framing it in positive language.  For example, if your child is running around the house and you want them to stop, instead of saying “stop running”, try saying, “please walk inside the house.”

Every time you want to give a corrective statement think about how you can phrase it to be positive.  Try this activity: read through the first four examples, then complete #5.  After completing #5, fill in the blank with examples from your own home.  Challenge yourself to think about phrasing expectations in a positive way and practice these statements.

Negative Corrective Statement                                  Positive Corrective Statement

  1. Don’t yell at your brother                               Use your inside voice with your brother
  2. Why isn’t your room clean                             Clean your room please
  3. Stop hitting                                                        Use your hands gently
  4. Stop touching everything in the store          Put your hands in your pockets
  5. Don’t get so far away from us                        __________________________

In the moment, it’s not always easy to think of positive ways to correct your child, so thinking through some of these will be helpful. Contact us for more parenting support!

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