by Caitlin Schwanger
I recently attended Amy McCready’s Positive Parenting Solutıons webinar “How to Get Your Kids to Listen without Reminding or Yelling.” During the meeting, McCready, parenting specialist and creator of Positive Parentıng Solutions, explained a few basic principles to guide parents in their discipline strategies. Everything got better, she explained, when she began using positive parenting solutions: her children’s behavior got better, and her attitude improved. McCready stated that her vision for parents is that they won’t be able to remember the last time they had to raise their voice to get their children to obey.
How is this possible? How can you get your children to listen the first time? How can you stop misbehavior in your home? In the webinar, McCready explained a few basic principles that will help you on your way to parenting peace.
First, we have to understand why children misbehave in the first place. Bad behavior is a symptom of a deeper problem. We have to understand the problem before we can correct the bad behavior. Children (and adults) have two basic needs: they need to feel like they belong and they need to feel significant.
Children need to feel like they belong, that they are important to you. Children need to feel emotionally connected to their parents, to their siblings, even to their teachers. Children need a lot of positive attention from you. If they aren’t getting enough of that attention, they may resort to negative behaviors to get your attention, even if it’s negative. If something they do gets you to give them the attention they need, they’ll keep repeating that behavior. So one solution to bad behavior is to make sure that your child’s “positive attention basket” is full.
Children need to feel significant, that they are capable, that they make a difference, that they contribute. Often, this translates to children having a need to feel power, that they are in control. So, find ways to help your children feel like they are contributing. Have them help around the house–let chores be a positive thing. Also, give your children age-appropriate positive power. When it is appropriate, let them feel like they have a choice, like they are in control.
In her book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time, McCready provides parents with a “toolbox” of strategies for disciplining children. One of the tools she explained during the webinar was the 5 Rs of Consequences.
The 5 Rs of Consequences
1. Respectful—you need to be respectful to your child and to yourself. If you can’t deal with the situation right away, wait until you can be calm, collected, and respectful.
2. Related to the misbehavior—Make sure the consequence is related to the behavior so the learning event can take place. For example, if your daughter back talks, you shouldn’t discipline her by grounding her from her sleepover.
3. Reasonable in duration—The discipline should be reasonable for the age of the child. McCready recommended taking a puzzle away from a three-year-old for a day and video game privileges away for a week for a teenager.
4. Revealed in advance—You must reveal the rule and the consequence in advance. This gives your child the opportunity to make the choice. This gives them power and control over the situation.
5. Repeat—Have the child repeat the rule back to you. You now know that your child understands the rule and the consequence, and you now have a verbal agreement.
Positive Parenting Solutions has over twenty-five other tools for parents to use with their children. Parents have access to these tools through Positive Parenting Solution’s parenting courses and through Amy McCready’s book. For more information, see Positive Parenting Solutions, or the book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time.