Have you been teaching your child that failure is more valuable than success? If you react to negative behavior with more passion, energy and attention than you allot for positive behavior, you may have been doing just that. Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach
suggests flipping the switch and being totally present for your child when she's doing good and withdrawing that energy when behavior's bad. The book gives a detailed plan for setting up a behavior management system with charts and points, and it's worth reading and trying. That's your homework, and when you've done it, you can really get started with teaching your child successful behavior. But right away, you can switch your focus from pointing out your child's failures to celebrating when he succeeds.
- When your child does something good, say what you see him doing and let him know you appreciate it.
- When your child isn't doing something good but isn't doing something bad, either, say what you see her doing and let her know that you appreciate that, too.
- When your child seems to be heading toward doing something bad, say that you see he's trying not to slip and that you appreciate how hard that is.
- Whenever possible, create opportunities for your child to do something good so that you can give lots of positive recognition.
- When your child does do something bad, withdraw attention instead of pouring it on. Not for too long, though -- and be sure to provide lots of praise if he serves time-out well.
A great bonus of this technique of looking for opportunities to make positive statements is that it will not only make your child feel better about himself, it will make your outlook more positive. And as your child learns to succeed, you'll feel like a success as well.