Prompting

How can you set your child up for daily success? One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on prompting instead of punishment. Here’s what you need about inspiring your child toward ethical behavior and decisions:

Friendly Competition

One of the ways to encourage your child toward good behavior is to create a simple competition where you dare them to turn a negative behavior into a positive one. If your child is fidgety and doesn’t sit still or tends to be disruptive, for instance, create a friendly competition or prompt that steers them to better behavior.

To have them sit still, you may ask, “Let’s see if you can sit better than me!” This challenge puts his or her focus on trying to do better than you. They learn how to sit still without even realizing it.

A Dose of Praise

If your child wins the friendly little competition, or they do something well, give them a good dose of praise. A few encouraging words such as, “Look at how good you are at this!” are positive reinforcement that makes them feel good about themselves and their accomplishments.

Set Your Child Up for Success.

The whole goal behind prompting is to catch your child doing good things. How often do you find them doing something proper rather than bad behavior? Every time you catch your child doing something right, let them know. Along with praise, setting your child up for success means you recognize and reward their good behaviors. In fact, the more you catch them doing good things, the more their brain tells them, “I like this!” which gives them a good reason to continue.

Brain Power

The more you punish your child’s behavior, the more cortisol (stress hormone) is released and goes to your child’s brain. So, what kind of mind do you want your child to have? A mind that is excited about doing good things, or a brain that anticipates getting in trouble? I know my choice. I want my child to be always enthusiastic about doing good things.

Redirect

Helping your child improve their behaviors involves more than prompting them, setting them up for success, and catching them do good things. Sometimes prompting requires redirection. Redirection is merely redirecting their attention in a different direction when they are upset, worried, or anxious. Completely change the subject to something positive and engaging. If they are upset, redirect them to look out the window at something exciting, or ask about a favorite toy. This type of prompting helps divert their attention to a positive experience that supersedes their other challenging emotions.

The final question to ask yourself is how well you prompt your child for successful interactions and behaviors. I think we can all agree that children will not have the very best discipline all the time. To improve their level of discipline, we must prompt them all the time. Then, catch your child doing good things and set them up for success.

Patience 

Take a few extra seconds when responding to poor behavior. These seconds demonstrates compassion, empathy, and self-control on your part. Sometimes all you need to do is think about responding in the most patient manner to help re-direct your child. A few seconds can make a big difference.

Ask, Listen, Explain

Patience helps you to establish better solutions for difficult moments with your child.

If your child has a temper tantrum, for instance, take a few seconds to calm down before reacting. Then, ask questions to help determine what is driving the behavior. Listen to what they say and then explain what they could have done instead.

Patience can lead to understanding and solutions. Be patient and ask the right questions to get your child back on track.

Give a Do-over 

A do-over is precisely what it says – the chance to do something again. Using patience means allowing your child to act in a better way than they did the first time around.

The perfect time to implement a do-over is when your child says something out of anger, such as “You are not my favorite mommy!” A do-over begins by telling your child that this is not the proper way for them to speak to you. You may start with, “Let’s do this over. What is a nicer way to talk to me when you are upset?” This question gives them the chance to explain why they are upset in a different way. It may be as simple as they didn’t want to stop playing to eat dinner. Allow them the chance to re-phrase and then go from there, such as letting them know that they can play more, just after dinner.

When you allow your child a do-over, you use patience with your child and apply patience to the way that you react to their behavior.

Provide Teaching Moments

Many people assume that discipline means “to punish” when it means “to teach.”

When your child makes a mistake, you can either punish or discipline through patient teaching moments. In a soccer game, if a player misses the ball, the coach doesn’t yell and get angry with them. Instead, they explain what went wrong and help the player by letting them know how they can improve the next time.

A parental teaching moment is the same. When your child makes a mistake, use patience to explain what they did wrong and provide them information that will help them improve or not make the same mistake again. A teaching moment offers options and solutions, while punishment does not.

The question to ask yourself today is how patient are you with your child. How many times do you give them do-overs? Try to provide them with as many do-overs as possible so they can learn how to behave and communicate better. In the long run, both of you learn valuable teaching moments through patience.

Attunement

Do you ever feel like you can read your child’s mind? You know what they are going to do or say next because they have had the same reaction before? This profiling is attunement. Improving your attunement skills will allow you to create a more patient and understanding relationship with your child. 

Modify Your Child’s Behavior: 

Be attuned to your child’s anxieties and try a creative approach that allows them to focus on positive behaviors and interactions instead of their fears or stresses. 

Your attunement to the fact that your child has anxiety about going to school in the morning, for instance, help them relieve their stress by adding some interactive playtime with them before school. This playtime will boost their endorphins, so they feel good and less stressed. Allowing them to run off some of their energy in the morning creates a positive and consistent change in their behavior. 

Wait for the Right time 

Applying patience is an attunement-builder because when you understand your child’s mood, you can eliminate some of the everyday struggles you have with them.

If your child wakes up happy most mornings, but grumpy after naps on the weekend, you already expect that behavior. It might be better to wait or to be patient until they feel a little less irritable to talk to them or ask them to do something. You will get better results that way, and they will be less grumpy when they respond. 

Understand Your Child’s Stage of Development 

Being attuned to your child’s stages of development will break some of the assumptions that you have about them, which will improve your relationship and understanding with your child. 

When you ask a 3 to 4-year old to sit on the floor, they seem to roll around a lot. Are they not paying attention? The chances are that part of their behavior is due to their physical stage of development. Physically, it is uncomfortable in their core muscles to sit on the floor for long without rolling back. 

Similarly, 10 to 14-year olds seem lazy. They look like they do not have enough energy to take the trash out after watching a movie. What’s going on here? Research shows that they are physically, scientifically exhausted. Their body and brain are changing from kid versions to adult versions, which makes them seem less than smart and overly lazy. 

By being attuned to their stages of development, you can communicate better with them, knowing what to expect and why. 

Anticipate Language Barriers 

Being attuned to your child’s development in language skills will help you understand their responses and reactions, and not get frustrated if they only respond to bits and piece of what you ask. If you learned a foreign language for only a few years and heard a conversation among fluent speakers, would you understand it entirely or only be able to pick out a word, phrase, or topic here and there? 

If several children hear, “Molly, can you come here” it is possible that several of them will come running instead of just Molly. This reaction is because they only heard the instructional phrase and not necessarily the name. Kids apply the only language skills that they have at their age of development, which for a 3 or 4-year-old is only three or four years! 

Practice Response Flexibility 

Probably the best thing you can do to improve your reactions as a parent is to practice response flexibility. Being flexible with your child’s mood and deciding what requires action immediately and what can wait. Or, realizing that it is not necessary to be harsh every time something terrible happens. 

Recently my son decided it was a good idea to do a flip on top of me when I was on the couch and busted my nose. Instead of yelling at him, I used response flexibility and kept my reaction in perspective because I know that he didn’t do it on purpose. He was playing, and I had to keep that in perspective. Explaining what happened to them and using it as a teaching moment is a more responsible way to respond using response flexibility. 

Attunement all comes down to how well you know your child and their moods, and how well you know yourself. Start thinking about how you can help your child use the right behaviors by being more attuned to their development, behaviors, language skills, and mood, and most importantly, try to practice response flexibility when the unexpected happens. Sometimes your child will learn more from how you respond than from what you say. 

Connection

One of the most important things that you can do as a parent is establishing a connection with your child. Children need connection more than anything else. 

Here are a few ways that you can begin to build a great connection with your child: 

Daily Interactions: 

  1. Make one-on-one connections with your child. Instead of asking a question from across the room, take an extra 15 seconds to walk to your child, get down on their level, maybe tap their shoulder or touch their arm, and ask the question. Chances are they will engage right away (instead of ignoring you) and answer you because you have made that personal connection. 
  2. Connect with your child as many times per day as possible. Every positive connection with your child means fewer disconnected or frustrating moments for both of you. 
  3. Begin positive connections when your child is young. The more positive relationships you make early on, the better they will respond and communicate as they get older. Over time they will have a strong enough connection with you that you no longer need to be right in front of them for them to answer your question. 
  4. Reduce stressful interactions. Good connections reduce stress or cortisol, which is the stress hormone. If you get upset with your child, it makes them angry, too. By improving your connections daily, you begin to eliminate some of the obstacles in your communication with them which also reduces stressful interactions

Boost their Neurotransmitters! 

You can “up” your child’s neurotransmitters to build a better parent-child connection, which means improving your relationship with your child by giving them positive reinforcement in a variety of ways that will allow them to thrive, feel happy, and be healthy. 

  1. Tell your child about something that is going to happen that is exciting so that they can look forward to it. This expectation improves the neurotransmitter Dopamine, which is the anticipation chemical. 
  2. Hug your child and let them know they are essential. Oxytocin is the chemical that reacts through touching. 
  3. Give your child praise for good behavior or a job well done. Recognition improves Serotonin, which is about feeling satisfied. 
  4. Finally, give your child the chance to run and play or engage in a fun physical activity, especially when they are stressed or feel anxiety. Active movement involves endorphins. 

The last crucial bit of advice is to self-assess. How connected you think you are with your child right now? On a scale of 1 to 5, what grade would you give yourself? Put these tips into action and make a better connection with your child because the more you connect, the better.