Time-in refers to the positive side of parenting. Children often see their parents as people who set limits and punish them for misbehaviors. In order to develop a strong parent-child relationship, you should also be seen as supportive, loving, and a source of positive attention.
It’s important in early childhood for you to develop a strong bond with your children that fosters communication and mutual respect. These elements are critical for parent-child relationships to be strong throughout your child’s teen years.
So what does a Time-in look like?
1. Catch your child doing good. Watch your children’s behaviors. Instead of reacting by punishing when your children are fighting, try praising them when they are getting along. Show them that getting along is something you want them to do by praising them when they do get along.
2. Don’t wait until they do something extraordinary to praise your kids, praise them for the little things along the way. For example, say your child misses 10 shots at his basketball game, but he makes 3 baskets. After the game, praise him for the 3 baskets (even if the team lost the game.) Likewise, don’t wait until report cards come out to praise your child for his grades, praise each test that comes home with a satisfactory score.
3. Be specific when you praise your child. Don’t just say “Good job.” It’s likely that your child will have no idea what they did good. Instead say, “Good job making those 3 baskets in the game today!”
4. Pair your praise with physical touch. Touch is very reinforcing, so when you praise your child, give her a pat on the back or a high-five.
5. Be immediate. The closer you give praise to the behavior being praised, the more likely your child will associate the two. For instance, praise your children while they are playing nicely, not two days later.
6. Avoid backhanded praise. Statements like, “Good job playing nicely together today. Why can’t you act that way every day?” totally undermines the praise.
Pairing these new strategies with ones you are currently using will make dramatic improvements in your parent-child relationship!
For more ways to change your parenting style to a more positive, uplifting parent-child relationship, check out our Defeat Defiance Guide!