Thursday, April 1, 2010

Respond to the First Positive Communication

Have you ever seen those kids that just walk up to their parent and slap them to get their attention?
Has your kid ever done that to you?
Or maybe they just continue to say your name over and over and over again?
Pretty annoying, right?
Now, did you ever think that the child is doing that because the parent trained them to?

Think of it from a childs perspective.
They walk up to a parent and say "mom"
Mom says: "just a second".
They come back with a louder "MOM".
Mom says "hold on please".
The child continues saying 'mom'.
Maybe he starts shaking his mothers arm or leg.
He keeps getting louder and more obnoxious in his guestures.
(Is this sounding familiar?)

And finally, mom responds:

As a kid, you recognize that the only way to really get mom's attention is to poke, prod, yell and throw a tantrum.
Eventually mom will respond.
The problem: mom is responding to a negative form of communication.

The objective:
 Respond to the First Positive Communication,
so your child doesn't have to resort to negative.

Look and listen for signs of communication, especially in younger children.
Some examples of communication:
- Your child is looking at you, waiting for a reaction
- Your child is whining or crying, but using words (crying out mommy, etc.)  This is a lot different than simply screaming/crying.
- Child slaps, hits or yells to get your attention.

If you take the time to respond to the first possitive communication, you are teaching your child that that is the appropriate way to interact.
Which means it is equally important not to respond to negative signs of communication, becuase that is teaching your child the exact opposite.

The argument might be that mom did respond.
But again, thinking from a kid's perspective, "just a second" and "hold on please" don't mean anything.
Unless your child has a firm understanding of time, with the knowledge of what 'waiting/patience' means, along with the ability to actually do it, you aren't getting through.

I am also not saying that those phrases should never be used.
Mom's need alone time too, and can't just give their undivided attention whenever their children want.
The point is, you have to actually teach your child what you want them to do.
You have to teach them how to wait, which will probably be difficult.

Or, you can teach them about time:
The concept of time is hard for kids to wrap their minds around, so you must find a way to make time tangible (try using a timer).
You can easily teach a child that when the timer 'beeps', mommy can help you.
Start with 30 seconds (that is still a long time for a child to sit still).
Eventually you will be able to work your way up to longer periods of time.

Timers also help keep you honest.  Because realistically, most of the time "just a minute" turns out to be much much longer than that.

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