Words: Your Secret Weapon - Part 1

Question: What would you like your child to think when he or she makes a good choice?

A.  Nothing at all.
B.  “That was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done.”
C.  “That was great. I’m glad I did it. I should do that again!”

I hope that most of you picked C. If you picked A or B, then I cannot help you any further, and you should put your computer mouse down before you accidentally hurt yourself. If you chose C, I’ve got great news for you. Your words have the power to make it happen.

Positive words from a parent are something that kids want to hear again and again. All you need to do is consistently link these words with a specific behavior that you want your children to learn, such as listening the first time.

Here’s the trick. You need to be aware of EVERY TIME your child does the positive behavior you are looking for. You’ll miss a few, of course, and that’s OK. The reasoning is tried and true: You can’t increase a positive behavior it if you don’t consistently reinforce it, and you can’t reinforce it if are not aware of it. And you won’t be aware of it unless you are watching carefully for it.

Once you see the behavior, immediately give your child what I call focused, positive attention. This just means that you are going to soak your child with warm parental attention while giving her a highly detailed description of the positive behavior that just made the whole thing happen.

Here are some easy examples:

· “Johnny, you did a great job listening the very first time I asked you!”
· “Susie, I just heard you say, ‘That’s OK, I can do it later,’ when mom said you couldn’t go outside right now. That’s a great way of being respectful when you have to wait for something.”
· “Hey, I was just watching you guys play your game and Brandon, I saw you let Michael go first. Michael, I heard you tell Brandon he did a good job. You’re both doing a great job of playing in a friendly and respectful way.”

Your goal is to pour on the focused, positive attention as often as you can. If you do, you will literally be amazed at what will happen. Susie will learn that mom and dad are paying attention to her positive behavior. She will begin to think that listening to mom and dad is fun (how could she not?). If it is fun, she will do it more often. If she does it more often, she will soon begin to do it without thinking. When she does it without thinking, it is becoming a new habit.

Just as I have seen hundreds of other parents do, help your child change her behavior by using your attention to teach her one of life’s most important lessons: Obeying God and treating others respectfully is a lot of fun.

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