Praise the Positive
Last week I gave you an example of someone who was amazing at maintaining their composure during a child’s acting out for negative attention. I mentioned that many times, it is advisable to ignore the negative behavior if it is intentionally attention seeking. Although, I also added that the child must be safe, so if they escalate to doing something that would endanger themselves, or others, it’s time to step in and put a stop to it.
Redirecting the child is a wonderful way to stop the negative attention. It can often stop the misbehavior as well as give you an opportunity to praise the positive.
As an example, let’s say a child is being wild, climbing all over furniture, standing on the counters or some such thing. If you scream at the child or start chasing them to get them to stop, it becomes a game. They have succeeded in negatively getting your attention, and it will probably continue because they are enjoying it.
Perhaps starting a board game or an art project (playdoh, coloring, stickers), getting out a snack or starting to do another fun activity that the child enjoys, might get them to sit at a table and participate with you. If they are seeking your attention, and you offer it in the form of something they like doing, it should get them interested in positively interacting with you.
Then, once they are behaving properly, praise the positive. “I like the way you are sitting so calmly at the table and doing such a nice job coloring the flower.” “You are sitting so nicely and I love the giraffe you are making with the playdoh.” “Thank you for sitting with me. We are having such fun playing this game!” “I’m so glad you came over to have a snack with me, now we can chat about what you learned in school today!” You get the idea.
This could also work if you are trying to break a bad habit or start a new one. Instead of, “How many times have I told you to (fill in the blank)?!” You might gently suggest or remind, but when they do what it is you have been asking them to do without being told, make a big deal of it. “Dude! You put your clothes in the hamper today, that’s terrific. High five!”
The theory is that praising the positive will get better results than concentrating on the negative. Everybody likes to feel good about themselves.
If this is not something you have tried before, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results. Oh, and… this can work with adults, too. Grin.
*Pam Horton Is a Board Certified Advanced Christian Life Coach and Parenting Coach.