Being a parent is tough. Period. As much as we love our kids, there are moments it can be very challenging to “like” them when they are misbehaving and not listening. It can even feel chaotic at times!
Do you ever feel like you’re spending hours trying to find answers from every resource you can on how to handle your child’s difficult behaviors? Do you feel like the advice you receive is either conflicting or just confusing? The truth is, even experts will give you opposing advice. Some may say you should enforce stricter rules when others advise you to be more understanding and patient. No wonder parents feel like pulling their hair out trying to figure out what is best for their children!
Luckily, we’ve discovered a secret trick that you can start using with your kids right now that is absolutely FREE and easy to do. This tip has also been proven to work by decades of research, so this isn’t just an opinion, it’s a fact!
To begin, let’s imagine that you have planted seeds in two pots. In Pot A is a plant that you’ve watered everyday, whereas Pot B’s plant has only been watered a handful of times. Which pot do you think will have the biggest plant at the end of the month?
If you answered “Pot A”, then you’re one step ahead of the game!
The imagery of these two potted plants is a perfect way to describe our kids’ behavior pattern. The water that we feed these “plants” symbolizes the attention that we give our kids. In this case, attention refers to any reaction you make when your child is doing something. Whether it’s smiling at them for good behavior or being mad at their mess, these are some examples of giving them attention.
Now let’s take this analogy a step further and imagine these two pots are sitting on your dining room table. Pot A represents “appropriate” behaviors and Pot B represents “problem” behaviors. Whenever you react to your child’s appropriate behaviors by praising them, talking to them, or smiling at them, put a token in Pot A. Every time you react to problem behaviors by changing your facial expression, telling them to stop, or lecturing them, put a token in Pot B. If you are like most parents, you will probably find that, by the end of the day, the problem behavior pot (Pot B) has significantly more tokens than the appropriate behavior.
Why do you think this is?
It is a natural instinct for humans to notice when things are wrong without taking note of things that are going well. In moments when the kids are getting along, coloring quietly, or playing nicely, it is not a natural reaction to praise them since it feels normal. This reaction is normal and does not make you a bad parent. Acknowledging and praising your child’s positive behavior is watering your “appropriate” plant (Pot A). Watering your kid’s positive behavior means to be present with them. Celebrate your kids and join them in their world. Soon enough, you’ll see their plant bloom! This exercise takes practice, but you can train your mind to take note of the good behavior and it will absolutely get easier over time.
What is a good way to start?
Start by holding yourself accountable for your reactions.
Quick How-To Tip: Set a timer on your phone that reminds you to analyze what your child is doing in that exact moment. Whatever it may be, if it’s an appropriate behavior, give them praise and acknowledgment for it! your little one is exhibiting only problem behaviors, go ahead and handle those the way that works best for your family. This can be a great reminder to tell your child they are doing something good even in the normal, everyday moments. Also, do not tell your child you are doing this! Be as discreet as possible. Some interventions work well when the child is involved, but this is NOT one of them.
That’s it! Simply, focus as much as possible on all of the good (or normal) things your child is doing! You can start implementing this immediately and seeing the effects of it very quickly. This exercise is great because it is simple and has the countless sources of research to back it up. This also makes you feel AMAZING as a parent and you deserve that! It may feel awkward at first, but it will soon become natural as well as a very healthy addition to your home. Finding the good in things will flow out in your parenting in beautiful ways and moments with your child you might never have shared before. The bond you already have with them will grow exponentially–and so will that beautiful potted flower of yours!
Although this method is a great start and very effective with ALL children, we understand that some children have more behavioral difficulties than others so this may be harder to apply. It is harder for some parents to implement as well if their natural parenting style or the way they were raised is very different from this strategy. No matter what you’ve learned or known up to this point, do not lose hope! This intervention does work for everyone but sometimes a little extra help is needed. If you have questions about how to make this intervention work for your family, or if you’ve tried it and it’s not working the way it should, please contact us to schedule a Free Behavioral Consultation. We have a team of behavior and parenting experts who will be happy to talk to you about the specific needs of your family and can give you strategies that will make it work for you! Call 510-894-4135 or click the “Request A Free Behavior Consultation” button at www.discover-hope.com, to schedule yours now!