I’m not proud to admit it, but I’m guilty of giving a knee-jerk response to my children’s requests. Did I even listen to the question? Before saying no, really consider what your child is asking before responding. You can still be firm about what you don’t want them to do. You can also spin the words “no” and “don’t” into “do” commands and by finding opportunities to say “yes.” We can all do more encouraging and less discouraging.
This is a tricky one for many reasons. Parents may struggle with body image and unintentionally pass along their eating habits and negative feelings about certain foods to their children. Studies show that labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” “healthy” or “unhealthy” can increase a child’s desire for these foods. Be aware of the framework you may be creating around food.
Using rewards as a bargaining chip for a desired behavior is a slippery slope to an attitude of entitlement. Let your older kids know that they don’t need sticker charts and rewards anymore. Express confidence in their ability to cooperate without these treats and make sure they know the consequences they’ll face for negative behavior. Bottom line: Children don’t need rewards to behave appropriately.
How often have you said “you’ll be fine” when your child was upset or crying? When we say these words or words like them, what we’re actually doing is invalidating their feelings and making them feel they’re wrong for showing emotion. Try calmly asking your child, “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” They’ll be more inclined to communicate their feelings and tell you the problem when it happens again.
“I do everything for you.” These words are often said as a way to highlight our actions so that our children will comply when we ask them to do something. Although it’s true that we do a lot for our children, constantly reminding them of it can make them feel like a burden, rather than as we intend it. Instead, try saying, “We do things for you because we love you, so please do [xyz] for me.”
If you say to your child, “You did well, but you could do better,” you’ve just negated the compliment altogether. A compliment followed by the word “but” is essentially invalid because the “but” will make them feel like they didn’t do enough. Instead, try saying, “You did well and I’m proud of you. I bet you’re going to keep getting better and better!” Celebrating small victories is a way to motivate children to constantly do well.
The “my way or the highway” approach makes children feel like their opinions aren’t valid. Instead, explain why you feel the way you do by having a conversation about it so that they understand your position. It can be exhausting to explain your reasons, but it will be beneficial to your children if they know they’ve been heard and not dismissed outright.
By Jenny Blunier
Sources: positiveparentingsolutions.com, parent24.com