- Make your praise specific. It takes the guess work out of the situation so your child knows exactly what you approve of. Instead of saying "good job" say "good job cleaning up."
- Make your praise about actions. Praising things your child does allows him or her to repeat that behavior to continue to get your approval. For example, try saying things like "thank you for putting your dishes in the sink" instead of "good boy."
- Catch your child being good or doing the opposite of what bothers you. If your child constantly whines you might be so relieved when it doesn't happen that you just want to enjoy the peace and quiet. But this is the perfect opportunity to praise your child for behaving the way you want. Focus your praise on what you appreciate rather than what bothers you. You might say "I love how calmly your speaking right now" instead of "thanks for not whining."
Effective praise can enhance your relationship with your child and improve your child's behavior. Praise has gotten some bad press lately, but it is an extremely effective tool for shaping self-esteem and behavior. The type of praise you give matters. Here are some tips for getting the most from your praise.
These tips were drawn from the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Treatment Manual by Sheila Eyberg, Ph.D. Find out more about PCIT at www.pcit.org.
-Time out should be a consequence for a behavior you don't approve of, so set up your time out spot in a place that is free from distractions and toys. Time out is time out from attention from you and from the things your child would rather be doing.
-Start by giving your child a direction that tells your child what you want him/her to do. For example if your son is picking on his sister, say “please leave your sister alone” or if your daughter yelling say “please use a soft voice.”
-After you give the direction wait 5 seconds to decide if your child has obeyed. This 5 seconds is just for you to decide if your child is obeying. When children know they have 5 seconds they often wait until the very last second to obey.
-If your child obeys right away praise him/her for cooperating.
-If your child does not obey give a warning first that restates the direction and says that there will be a time out if the direction is not followed. For example “if you don’t use a soft voice you will have to go to time out.”
-Wait another 5 seconds to see if your child obeys.
-If your child does not obey follow through on the time out right away. This shows your child that you are being consistent with what you have said.
-Your child should not receive any attention while in time-out. This means you should not say anything to your child and you should not look at or use facial expressions either.
-Once your child has been in a time out spot for 3 minutes AND is quiet ask if he/she is ready to complete the initial direction.
-If your child is not ready then have your child sit in time out for another round. Do this as many times as it takes until your child is ready to follow that initial direction you gave.
-If your child gets up from the chair give a warning that if he/she gets up again there will be a second consequence (for example loss of a privilege just for that day). If your child gets off the chair again then follow through on taking that privilege away.
-After your child is out of time out praise the next thing you see that you approve of in your child’s behavior.
*These tips were drawn from the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Treatment Manual by Sheila Eyberg, Ph.D. Find out more about PCIT at www.pcit.org.
Conversations about body safety can feel overwhelming for some parents to navigate, but these conversations are so important. Prevention is the best approach. Here are some tips about starting these talks and resources to help.
1. Start early. Once kids start talking you can teach them what private parts are and that no one should ask to see their private parts or touch them there unless it is a parent for washing them or putting on medicine, a doctor for checking them, or a person a parent has told the child can help with washing or medicine.
2. Encourage communication. Tell your kids to come talk to you if they ever get a touch they feel confused about or don’t like. This could be anything, even a tickle or a hug. If a child doesn’t like it, then try to respect that. Children who are allowed to say no to any kind of touches they don’t like are more likely to say no if someone tries to cross a boundary, and are more likely to tell you about it too!
3. Stranger danger no more. When you do the safety talk make sure you do not overemphasize staying away from strangers. Most child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows. Tell your child that no one, even a family member, is allowed to touch their private parts.
4. Teach power words and asking for help. Teach your children to say “no” or “stop it” loudly if someone tries to touch their private parts or touches them in a way they don’t like. Have them practice yelling it out loud.
5. Sometimes telling once is not enough. Tell your children to find a trusted grown up right away to tell about any confusing touches. Tell your children to keep telling until someone believes them and helps them.
Parent and Child Psychological Services is a private practice serving children and families in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Florida. The practice is owned and operated by Dr. Gibson, a Licensed Psychologist who is Board Certified in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.