Monday, March 29, 2010

Guidelines for Child Behavior Improvement

This is the first of several Child Behavior Posts to come.
As I mentioned before, all of these principles were taught to me by my good friend, Marsha Lima.
This is simply my attempt to share what I believe to be amazing parental information with anyone who is interested.
Basic Guidelines for Behavior Improvement

In nearly EVERY situation there are 3 guidelines that can be used to help improve your child's behavior.

Once these have been implemented into your daily routine, specific 'rules' can be added to work on individual situations and to improve the overall progress of your child's behavior.
(These rules will be discussed in upcoming posts)

The 3 guidelines are:
1) Know what YOU want
2) The 'Yes' Mode
3) First this - Then that

#1: Know what you want
Most of the time, your child know's exactly what he wants.
You need to know what YOU want.

Think of a situation where your child often acts out of line; ie: screaming in the middle of church, running away when you try to change a diaper, complaining about not wanting to brush teeth, etc.
You need to know specifically what you want to have happen in that situation.

Ask yourself: What do I want _______ to be like?
(What do I want church / diaper changes / bedtime to be like?)
Do not concentrate on the "dont's".  Ie: "I don't want Cannon to throw a fit".
Knowing what you don't want doesn't necessarily mean you know what you do want, so be specific.
Ie: I want Cannon to sit down quietly and eat.

If you know exactly what you want, you are on the right track of getting your child to actually DO it.
If you focus on what you don't want, you are unaware of what you are trying to get your child to do.

#2: The 'Yes' Mode
Once you know what you want, you need to get your child into the 'yes' mode, so he/she will be willing to cooperate.

This is when you figure out what your child wants.

Be specific.
Don't ask "what do you want?"
Ask Yes/No questions:
- Do you want to get down?, - Do you want to play with your toy?, etc.
Once they have answered 'yes', they are in the yes mode.

So... now you know exactly what YOU want, and exactly what THEY want.

#3: First This - Then That
Once you have gotten your child into the 'yes' mode, this strategy helps them willingly accomplish what it is you would like them to do.

For example:
"Do you want to go outside?"
"Okay.  First we need to finish lunch"

It is really important that you say the work "okay" before you tell them what they need to do.
This assures your child that you are agreeing to give them what they want.
Then you tell them what they need to do first.

This gives your child the choice.

Just remember: if they don't give you what you want, they don't get what they want.
Soon enough they will realize that they get what they want only after they do what you ask. 

Don't expect this to work right away, because I can guarantee that it wont!
When I first started doing this with Cannon it literally took me over an hour to even get him into the 'yes' mode.
Especially in the beginning stages, everything you are doing is going to be new to your child, and that in and of itself is going to throw them for a loop.
Be consistant, and don't give in.
Anything worth while is going to take work.
Even after I was able to get Cannon to cooperate, it took a few days for him to realize that this was the new way things were going to be handled.
Breaking habits are much harder than forming them, and that it what you are going to be doing for the first little while.

Some important things to remember:
- The whole point is to let your child make the decision.
If he decides to do it, he will do it without force (not always willingly, but he will do it).
Ideally, both you and your child get what they want, so everybody wins.

- Your kid is going to do EVERYTHING he can think of to stretch your limits and find a weak link.
Don't give up!
They will catch on soon enough and it will be so much better after that!

- Also, if it isn't an option, don't offer it as one.
If they can see that the family is packing up to go out the door and you say something like "finish your dinner or you are staying home", be prepared to stay home!
Kids are smart enough to know if you mean it or not.
False threats are only going to set you in the opposite direction.

Finally, start small.
Think of one situation at a time to work on, and move up from there.
I hope this was helpful.
It really is much harder to explain without being able to talk back and forth, but I use this strategy every day of my life, and it really works!.
Please please please feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Now go teach some behavior improvement skills!

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