Focus on The Positive
Behave. Behave. Behave. With our children, it’s always about their behavior. Especially this month.
“If you want Santa to visit and bring you something for Christmas, you better be good.”
We sometimes throw in “he’s watching you” for good measure.
All of this (creepy concept of an old guy watching included) is the oldest parenting tactic in the book. Put simply: it’s a threat. If you do this, then that will happen.
It works some of the time. After a while, the kids figure it out. Then, we parents get creative with threats: “If you don’t eat all your vegetables, you won’t get any dessert.”
Then we get sadistic: “If you don’t eat all your vegetables, then you’ll be like this kid who went blind because of poor nutrition. Do you hear what I’m saying? You could actually go blind!”
Laura Markham, Ph.D., author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting says threats serve nothing unless you follow through with them. Threats, she says, actually undermine our authority and cause children not follow the rules next time.
So how do we stop threatening our children, or better yet, how do we maintain discipline that isn’t cruel yet still demonstrates authority? Focus on the positive. Applaud their good behavior and not the bad.
The other morning, my youngest son woke up early and he and I, in the quiet stillness of the house, began a pretty sweet Lego building session. We gave each other blocks we needed, helped each other out, and smothered each other in compliments and “I love you’s.” The rest of that day we told each other how much fun that was and how we need to do that every morning.
Did I have to discipline him? Not at all. What we both gained that morning were countless moments we can relive when the going gets tough. I can remind him, and him me, about that amazing time when we helped each other out, when we gave each other our undivided attention, and when no one else was watching to make sure we were on our best behavior.
It’s this building of reciprocal good behavior between parent and child that we can all wish for this holiday season.