Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proactive Parenting Guest Article

I really live for these articles- hope it helps anyone out there who needs it!

Don’t You Dare Open the Birthday Girl’s Present!
It happens at most birthday parties; a child tries to “help” the birthday girl unwrap her presents. The other moms shoot dirty looks at the non‐birthday girl’ mom, which forces her to spring into action. Mom admonishes her child as she tries to move her away from the gifts and the glaring looks. The non‐birthday girl resists which causes mom to get even more intense. Finally, since nothing else is working, mom picks up her screaming child and takes her out of the room to make her stop. There are two big questions here.

1. Is a portion of this scenario created by the glaring looks of others?
2. Is there another way to handle this situation so the non‐birthday girl would stop“elping”yet
still teach her what to do instead? Yes to both questions.

• Timing is the first key. Knowing when to use this tip is the most important part of the process
If you overuse it the non‐birthday girl may translate it as nagging and will ignore you.
If you only use this tip once and walk away thinking that’s all there is to it, it won’t work either.
This requires parents to stay close by and teach, just like everything in parenting does.
Parents need to begin just as they feel themselves getting annoyed with their child’s behavior.
Waiting too long can cause you to use an angry tone of voice and the child won’t see this as
instructive and supportive and will most likely ignore you.
Watch your child and get to her as soon as you see her eyeing the gifts—not afterwards.
This is a ProActive technique. Most parents deal with things after they’ve happened, here I’m recommending that you deal with things before they get going.

• Supporting not correcting is the second key and really does cause better listening
Mom says, “I want to correct my child not support her when she exhibits misbehavior.” The beauty of this tip is the correction is hidden in the support. There’s no way your child can miss what you’re asking her to do. She experiences this as praise and everyone loves to be praised for good behavior. The praise is filled with information and is used instead of a correction. Better behavior follows because the child is listening, which is vastly different than the normal yelling and punishment used in situations like this.

• Repetition is the third key Like so many things during the toddler and preschool years teaching a little one requires repetition. A young child’s brain can only absorb so much information while being corrected. Parents need to remember that teaching a young child requires repeating the instructions more than once. Normal is at least 3‐10 times in the first few minutes. This allows her to hear you, see how serious you are, think about it and apply it to the situation, and understand there’ no wiggle room. It takes more than one repetition.

• Acting Proactively is the fourth key
Instead of saying, “get away from the gifts!” as she’s ripping off the wrapping paper—become proactive.

Watch her and just as she’s eyeing the gifts walk up and whisper, “It’s hard not to help, that’s some good waiting you’re doing, good job!” Since there’s no yelling, punishing or removing her from the party she’ll actually listen. However, she will unconsciously test what you’ve just said by doing it again. Look closely to see your next opportunity. As she moves in to “help” again she’ll glance up to see your reaction. Walk up and whisper the statement again. Do this several times. When all of this is fully understood switch from words to a thumbs up signal. This works so much better than yelling in public and everyone gets to have a good time at the party! This also works in other situations too. It works when she’s waiting in line, when she’s waiting for a turn, waiting for your attention, or when she’s waiting to get in the car as you load the baby or groceries. The more you use this tip the more ideas you’ll come up with.

The articles will stop for the summer and start up again in the fall. Sharon Silver is the founder and director of ProActive Parenting, www.proactiveparenting.net a site offering downloadable seminars to help parents lovingly teach and correct behavior as they deal with everyday toddler and preschooler behavior.


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