Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Some Alternatives to Punishment

I love this article from SW Parents.

It has helped me rethink how I approach my two-year-old's behavior.  We have been struggling with independence and stubbornness lately, and so my natural reaction is to put my foot down and say "No!  I'm the mom so I get to make all the decisions!"  In essence, I'm giving her the perfect example of a stubborn, independence driven temper tantrum.  I didn't stop to realize that my child's "misbehavior" is also a form of communication.  I should have seen her tantrums as a way of saying "Mom, I'm growing up.  I can handle this."  And you know what, she can.  And you know what else?  The "punishments" we have used in the past really don't work very well.  It just creates negativity and hurt feelings.

I learned a valuable trick from my sister recently.  Instead of nagging her kids to eat their dinner, she cheers them on by saying "Go, Eva, go!  You can do it!"  Talk about an uplifting dinner routine!  Since then, my two-year-old has started cheering us on when we eat all our food.  It's pretty much the cutest thing ever!  That never would have happened if I had continued threatening my daughter instead of encouraging her.

As a final note, I'm not saying that we should let our kids walk all over us parents.  I'm just saying there is a better way than letting yourself get worked up about misbehavior, a lesson I have had to learn over and over again.  (I will probably have to learn it many more times before I get the hang of it!) So try encouragement instead of threats.  These tricks might work for you:

From SW Parents:

  1. Show kids what you DO want them to do, and support them, encourage them, catch them doing it, praise them.  Give them positive options!
  2. Change the child’s environment so that it supports positive behaviors.  Simple example: don’t keep the jar of cookies where your 3 year old can reach them.  More complex example: figure out how long of a playdate your kid can handle before falling apart.  Keep playdates within that time frame until you’re both ready to experiment with incremental increases.
  3. Figure out what’s behind the unwanted/negative behaviors.  Behavior is a communication, I like to say… what is your child’s behavior saying to you?  Hint: it’s usually something along the lines of: “I’m tired and over stimulated” or “I can’t handle this much freedom,” or “I really need more time with you/attention from you,” or “Something’s not right with me,” or  “I am not getting enough opportunities to feel powerful and in charge of my life.”  When parents understand what the child’s behavior is communicating, they can better meet the underlying need… which generally has a positive effect on the unwanted behavior!