Tag Archives: positive parenting

Positive Parenting and Effective Praise…How to Guide for Parents of Defiant Children!

Tired of nagging your kids all the time?  Do you feel like no matter how many times you tell them to clean their rooms, the rooms are never cleaned and even seem to get messier and messier?  Worn out from refereeing sibling fights?  The answer is easier than you might think—Positive Parenting and using Effective Praise.

Positive ParentingInstead of spending your days disciplining the negative behaviors your children may be doing, create a positive parenting environment where you heavily focus on praising positive behaviors.   For instance, let’s say your child has a messy room.  Don’t nag your child until he cleans it up.  Ignore the mess, and praise your child EVERY TIME you see him put something away.  The theory behind Positive Parenting is simple—children crave their parent’s attention.  To a child, negative attention is better than no attention.  So even if your child is constantly in trouble for having a messy room, your child would much rather that happen than not have any focused attention from you at all.

So how does this work?  Simple.  Ignore the annoying behaviors your child does (e.g. have a messy room) and use effective praise for the positive behaviors.  Every time your child picks up a toy, puts even one piece of clothing in the dirty clothes hamper, praise your child.  This requires you to be more attentive to your child.  You have to catch him being good.  You, as the parent, have to be constantly looking for opportunities to praise your child.  (Yes, this might be hard at first—you’re probably very used to focusing on the negative.  You may even think that your child does very little right.  However, I’m sure there are things your child is doing well.  You just need some time to remember them!)  We’ve put together this free report on exactly how to ‘switch’ your parenting mindset from negative to positive if you want to learn more.

To help speed up the process of creating a positive parenting environment, you will need to be most effective with your praise.  Effective Praise works best if it is specific and immediate.  Saying, “Good job!” to your child is not as clear and definite as it needs to be.  The child may not even know what it is that he was doing well.  More effective positive parenting uses praise such as, “Good job putting your trucks in the toy box.”  This praise lets the child know exactly what he did well and that you believe this behavior is something he should continue to do.  Praise also has to be immediate.  Positive Parenting involves being in the moment with your kids.  The second he puts his trucks in the toy box, you need to give the praise—not hours later when your child doesn’t even remember playing with trucks that afternoon let alone putting them away.

Creating a positive parenting environment with effective praise isn’t done overnight.  Your child has taken many months or even years to develop his bad habits.  Change is slow, but it is certain if you consistently follow these suggestions.  But by developing a positive parenting environment and religiously using effective praise, you can strengthen your bond with your child and create a happier household and life for the whole family.

Positive Parenting and using Effective Praise are possible.  Start YOUR  mindset ‘switch’ today by grabbing our free report now!  

So you’ve heard about Time-outs. What about Time-ins?

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!

Positive Parenting Tips for Step-fathers

Positive Parenting with stepchildrenYou’ve married the love of your life.  You’re ready to step into a new role and move into the next phase of your life.  The only problem is your wife has an oppositional defiant child and you’re a new step-father.  You didn’t create the oppositional defiant child.  Your step-child’s behavior up until this point is not your fault, but you still can’t help noticing the stares you get from the people next to you at the grocery store while your oppositional defiant step-child has a tantrum.  So what do you do?  How do you step into the role of being a step-father?

The first step in learning to discipline an oppositional defiant step-child is to NOT discipline the child.  You are not the child’s parent.   You don’t have the natural bond that the child has with his or her biological parents.  Your new wife may be expecting you to suddenly take up the role of disciplinarian, but that is a recipe for disaster.

The first thing you need to do is develop a positive parenting relationship with your new step-child.  Figure out what it is that your step-child likes to do and participate in those activities with the child.  Say your step-son plays baseball.  Even if you don’t like baseball, attend his games.  After the game take him out for ice cream.  Tell him what a good job he did.  Show your new step-child that you’re interested in him.  Play with your new step-child.  If you both love video games, play a video game together.  Let him show you how to beat a game (Even if you’ve already beaten the game yourself 20 times!)

The key to ultimately being able to help manage your oppositional defiant step-child is to build a Positive Parenting relationship from the start.  You need to take the back seat when it comes to disciplining your step-child until you’ve solidified a positive parenting relationship with the child.  A positive parenting relationship with your step-child should start with showing your step-child that you are genuinely interested in him and then move on to a place of mutual respect.

Need more ideas on how to create a positive parenting environment in your new blended family?   Becoming a Great Step-Dad offers some realistic advice for your role as a new step-dad from a new step-dad.

  1. Don’t be Dad. Your step children (in most cases) already have a father. Whatever you do, don’t try to step into his place! And don’t’ ask them to call you “Dad.”  And don’t ever badmouth their dad, no matter how much you don’t like him.
  2. Be a Dad. While insisting on being called “Dad” is a bad idea, that doesn’t excuse you from actually being a father-figure. Act responsibly, be there for the kids when they need you, share their joys and sorrows with them, build them up as much as you can, help them with their homework, offer advice, explain how things work, organize their day, and so on — all the things you’d do if you were their actual father.
  3. Have one-on-one time. It’s easy to avoid getting close to your step-children; take some time alone with your step-children to interact with them as individuals instead of just as a “family”.
  4. Don’t talk down to them. Involve the kids in decisions, let them know what is going on each day, and just generally treat them with respect in conversations.
  5. You’re in this together, you and your step-children — both of you have to work out the whole step-relationship thing, and it’s not easy. Make sure you listen and respond to their concerns.
  6. Take cues from mom. Keep in mind that mom and your step-kids have worked out a living arrangement over years that may not make much sense to you at first but which makes sense to them. Deal with major disagreements out of earshot of the kids.
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love.  Don’t try to win them over with gifts.  Most kids are pretty savvy and will end up using your over-eagerness to manipulate you.  Plus, you’ll rest your relationship on a foundation that you can’t possibly keep up — eventually you’ll run out of gifts to give.
  8. Be open about your life, career, likes and dislikes, and interests — and make an effort to learn about theirs. Take part in their activities and involve them in yours.

Step-fathers have a lot going against them when they first become part of a blended family.  The key to building long-term success in your role as a new step-father is to make the parenting as positive as possible from the start.  As the years go by and your step-child learns to respect you, the discipline will naturally fall in place.

Behavior Management Coaching can help families develop positive parenting plans to help blended families develop stronger relationships.  Talk to us Today to learn more!


Tips on Positive Parenting

I hate you!  You’re so unfair!  Riley’s mom is so much cooler than you are!  Do you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending fight with your child?  Do you feel that each day just goes from bad to worse?  Break the cycle of negative parenting and create a Positive Parenting program in your home.

Positive ParentingYou, alone, have the power to change the environment of your home from negative to positive parenting.  You are the parent and you are in charge.  So make a commitment to yourself and your children to turn around the atmosphere in your home and become what we call a “Positive Parent.”

Before you do this, you’re going to want to spend some time gearing up.  Take a walk, go out for dinner by yourself, get your nails done— whatever you enjoy that allows you quiet time to think.  During your thinking time, list out what it is that you love about your child.  This is the first step toward becoming a positive parent.

Ask yourself:  What does your child do well?  What qualities about your child do you admire?  What hidden talents do you see in your child that makes him a good person?  (Depending how deep you are in the negative cycle, this may seem difficult, but it’s in there!  We love our children, and as parents we see qualities in our kids that no one else can see.  Sometimes we just get so wrapped up in the day to day that we lose sight of these positive things.)

After you’ve developed your starting point, begin being a positive parent!  One great thing to do is keep a small notepad with you during the day and write down every positive thing your child does during the day.  These don’t need to be complete sentences, just ideas (Trust me, your child isn’t going to critique your grammar!).

For example:
*brushed your teeth this morning without being asked
*gave your sister the last cookie
*got a B+ on your spelling test
*didn’t tease your sister when she spilled her milk at dinner
*and so on. . .

Then, at the end of the day, when you tuck your child in for bed, read over the list.  Let your child know that you were watching and caught him doing good things that day.  Your child will love the special time you’re spending together and will relish the positive praise.  Need some tips on what you should be able to realistically expect from your child at his stage of development?  Check out the CDC’s website at  http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/
This website allows you to pick your child’s age range and has great suggestions on age-appropriate positive parenting as well as information about developmental milestones and the health and safety of your child.

Tips for Toddlers:
• Play matching games with your toddler, like shape sorting and simple puzzles.
• Encourage your child’s growing independence by letting him help with dressing himself and feeding himself.
• Respond to wanted behaviors more than you punish unwanted behaviors (use only very brief time outs). Always tell or show your child what she should do instead.
• Give your child attention and praise when she follows instructions and shows positive behavior and limit attention for defiant behavior like tantrums.
• Teach your child acceptable ways to show that she’s upset.

Tips for Preschoolers:
• Be clear and consistent when disciplining your child. Explain and show the behavior that you expect from her. Whenever you tell her no, follow up with what she should be doing instead.
• Help your child through the steps to solve problems when she is upset.
• Give your child a limited number of simple choices (for example, deciding what to wear, when to play, and what to eat for snack).

Tips for Middle Childhood:
• Show affection for your child. Recognize her accomplishments.
• Help your child develop a sense of responsibility—ask him to help with household tasks, such as setting the table.
• Make clear rules and stick to them, such as how long your child can watch TV or when she has to go to bed. Be clear about what behavior is okay and what is not okay.
• Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, and going to events in your community.
• Use discipline to guide and protect your child, rather than punishment to make him feel bad about himself. Follow up any discussion about what not to do with a discussion of what to do instead.
• Praise your child for good behavior. It’s best to focus praise more on what your child does (“you worked hard to figure this out”) than on traits she can’t change (“you are smart”).
• Support your child in taking on new challenges. Encourage her to solve problems on her own.

Positive Parenting is possible!  It just takes commitment on your part and a starting point.  Behavior Management Coaching helps frustrated parents develop positive parenting strategies to reduce defiance and build stronger family relationships!  Talk to us today!   

Is there a link between Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD and Childhood Bullying?

oppositional defiant childWhile researching information recently for a couple families I work with, I discovered an older article from Huffington Post “Bullying and Mental Health:  Study Links Anxiety, Hyperactivity in Kids to Bullying.”  While this article was written in October 2012, following a study presented at the American Academy of Pediatric’s National Conference, I still found the information thought-provoking.

As we all know, when it comes to bullying, the focus of most of the research out there has been on the victims of bullying.  Studies show that children who are bullied have a higher chance of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.  However, this study focused on the relationship between mental health problems and the likelihood that a child will become a bully.  This study found that kids diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder were 6 times more likely to be identified as bullies than children with no mental health disorders!

This makes perfect sense to me when you consider many of the symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are more likely to have frequent tantrums, act out aggressively, engage in “revenge seeking” behaviors, and defy requests from authority figures.  This study also found that children with ADHD were more likely to be identified as bullies as well.  This also makes sense to me when you consider the fact that children with ADHD often act impulsively without thinking of consequences for their actions such as thinking how another child will feel if they call him a name.  Children with ADHD often have poor social skills and lack social restraint.  Thinking through the consequences of their actions is just plain difficult for these children, which falls right in line with the concept that these children may be identified as bullies—perhaps unbeknownst to the child himself.

So what can parents do if they suspect their Oppositional Defiant Child might be a bully?

1.  Help your child create healthy peer relationships.  Encourage your Oppositional Defiant Child to develop and maintain friendships.  If your child doesn’t have many friends right now, try enrolling him in a club or activity that he enjoys.  Then talk to him and listen to him as the two of you discuss the club or activity. Are there children he talks about more frequently than others?  If these children are positive role models for your child to be friends with, then encourage the budding friendships.  If your Oppositional Defiant Child creates meaningful friendships, then he’ll grow his self-esteem and begin to build some empathy for others.

2.  Set rules and follow them.  It’s difficult raising a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  One of the best methods for improving your child’s negative behaviors is to set clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.  Then follow them CONSISTENTLY!!!  It’s time to impress upon your child that there are rules in life.  Oppositional Defiant children often defy rules and requests from authority figures, making them prime candidates for bullying.  Do you really want your child to be a bully?  Do you really want your child to spend the rest of his life in trouble with authority, such as the school principal, police, court, etc.?  Is that the future you want for your child?  Make sure your child understands that bullying will not be tolerated and set firm boundaries and consequences for such behavior.

3.  Try to understand the reasons behind the bullying behavior.  Is your child angry?  Is he having difficulty expressing his emotions in a healthy way?  Perhaps your child simply needs to learn conflict-resolution skills or problem-solving skills.

4.  Set a good example.  Our kids are like sponges.  They watch, model, and internalize EVERYTHING we do.  Not necessarily everything we say.  So model good behavior with others.  Don’t ridicule or name-call others, even adults.  Your child will begin to think that this is acceptable behavior by watching you interact with other adults this way.  Verbalize your feelings and frustrations in healthy ways.  Explain to your kids that you’re frustrated or feeling angry.  For example, next time a truck driver cuts you off on the interstate, instead of screaming “M***** F*****” and blaring your horn, try taking a deep breath and calmly tell your child, “Boy, that really made me mad.  It’s not nice to cut someone off on the interstate.  Someone could get hurt.”  What a switch, huh?

5.  Establish a positive parenting environment in your home.  Catch your children doing positive things.  Praise them when they interact positively with siblings, friends, parents, and other people in their lives.  Give attention every time your child is being positive.  Establishing a positive parenting environment in your home is the key to putting it all together.  A positive parenting home will teach your child to be positive themselves and not find enjoyment in hurting others.  Show your child how being positive, looking for the good in people, and helping people is a healthier and happier way to live life.

Behavior Management Coaching helps parents of Oppositional Defiant Children learn to establish firm, clear rules and expectations for their children before it’s too late!  We can help turn the negativity of your home into one of mutual respect.  Talk to us today.

ADHD, Lack of Physical Activity, and “Magic Pills”

I recently read a blog that I’m sure you will find just as interesting as I did.  The blog links the rise of ADHD to the decrease in physical activity in children today.  The blog “Increase in ADHD Runs Parallel With Decrease in Physical Activity” makes a fairly convincing argument that the rise in ADHD diagnoses could be in part due to the fact that children today just aren’t getting enough physical activity.

Why is there such an increase in childhood ADHD over the last two decades?

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 11% of children are diagnosed with ADHD by the time they finish high school, a drastic increase since 1990.  I completely agree with many critics out there that suggest that the number of children diagnosed with ADHD is significantly higher than it should be, due in part to the fact that screening for ADHD is largely subjective.  Most screening tools ask parents and teachers a variety of questions in order to assess for ADHD.  However, if you’re a frustrated parent or a teacher who just wants this hyper kid to sit down and shut up, it’s not too easy to sway the data for these surveys.  My wife was a teacher for 7 years.  She knows from personal experience that a hyperactive kid can cause MAJOR disruptions in class.  Teachers are super stressed and getting a hyperactive kid medicated might really change their classroom dynamic for the better.  While I hope this is not common, I can see where a teacher-completed ADHD assessment scale might be swayed ever so slightly to promote medication and those zombie-like tendencies we have all heard horror stories about.

Temptations of the “Magic Pill”

Furthermore, many parents have been brainwashed to think that ADHD medication is the “magic pill” they have been looking for.  Let’s face it…it’s WORK to raise any child in this generation, much less a kid with hyperactive and impulsive tendencies!  Just imagine you’re a stressed out, frustrated parent of an impulsive, bouncing off the walls overactive 8 year old boy.  Wouldn’t you want a “magic pill” that could solve all of your parenting problems without raising so much as a finger?  And your child simply has to raise a cold glass of water and pop that little blue “magic bullet” that will make him listen like an angel and sit at his desk class like a plastic mannequin that will please even the most rigid teacher on the planet!   The little pill that will make their child magically behave and be a model child, the type of child that other parents will be envious over.  Guess what?  ADHD medication is NOT the “magic pill.”  I know this from working with children for over a decade.  When parents medicate their children, instead of finding a magically wonderful child, they often complain that their child is “Just not himself” or a “zombie” or even find that it works for part of the day (usually the part of the day that their child is in school) and then the child becomes the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons for the entire evening!

While there isn’t any clear resActive Childrenearch out there linking the rise in ADHD diagnosis to the lack of physical activity in children, this blog on the Huffington Post sure made me stop and think.  The rise in ADHD diagnoses certainly runs parallel to the decline in physical activity in children.  Kids naturally have lots of physical energy they need to expel.  How many times have you watched your children playing and thought, “Gee, I wish I had that much energy.”  So think about it—children are locked up in school for increasingly longer and longer hours each year.  Add to that the fact that schools are slashing their Physical Education classes, extracurricular sports teams, and recess time.  (Oddly enough, studies demonstrate that when kids are engaged in regular physical activity they show less anxiety, increased focus, and better academic performance—sound like ADHD symptoms to you?)  It makes perfect sense that children are hyperactive.  Of course they are!  They have tons of pent up energy and ZERO ways of constructively utilizing that energy on a daily basis.  And to top it off, I bet I can guess what your kids do after they get home from school.  Chances are, they plug in to the TV and begin a marathon of video games that is only interrupted by chips or a candy bar and a fast dash to the bathroom when they can’t hold it any longer.  Starting to see why ADHD is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s lethargic society?

According to the CDC less than 30% of adolescents meet the guidelines for daily physical activity.  Parents can list mountains of reasons to willingly keep their kids indoors—neighborhood safety, urban density, the lure of electronic devises—but the fact of the matter is that it’s healthy for kids to get outside and burn off some of their pent up energy!

How to Help Hyper Kids WITHOUT “Magic Pills”

I am a huge advocate to not medicate your child for ADHD unless you have already tried other avenues.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  There are children that legitimately need ADHD medication and can benefit greatly from taking it regularly.  But a better place to start is with encouraging physical activity, reducing video game time, and using some Positive Parenting skills to see what a difference you can make without relying on the “magic pill” first.  Start by taking your kids to the park, playing catch in the yard, signing them up for a gymnastics class—all of these will help your hyperactive child burn off some of their pent up energy and will make a drastic improvement in the way things go for the rest of the evening.  At Behavior Management Coaching, we teach many Positive Parenting skills that can help frustrated parents of hyper and impulsive kids who just aren’t quite ready for the medication path.  I have personally seen amazing results for ADHD children and their frustrated parents from these Positive Parenting skills.  Using these skills and making several other small changes can make a world of difference in your child’s hyper and impulsive behaviors without going down the “magic pill” path that often leads to even more side effects and other challenges for your already struggling child to overcome.

Behavior Management Coaching can help parents deal with the stress of parenting an ADHD child by teaching concise, proven Positive Parenting Skills to reduce childhood behavioral problems, improve the child’s self-esteem, and drastically reduce parent’s stress levels in the process.  Talk to us today.

Smartphones: Just How “Smart” are They When it Comes to Raising Children?

Positive ParentingI just stumbled across a thought-provoking article about raising children that really caught my attention, Parents on Smartphones Ignore Their Kids, Study Finds.  After spotting this headline, I just had to dig deeper.  The article describes a study recently conducted by researchers from the Boston Medical Center.  In this study, researchers observed and documented 55 families in fast food restaurants.  A whopping 40 of the 55 families observed in the study were engrossed in using their Smartphones!  While the study was particularly small, it does demonstrate something we see all the time—parents ignoring their kids by smothering themselves in the time-suckers we fondly call Smartphones.  But I fail to see what’s so “smart” about a device that has been responsible for perpetuating the recent breakdown in parent-child relationships.

Positive parenting and “Smartphones” have very little in common.  Have you noticed the disturbing trend that is occurring at dinner tables and restaurants from coast to coast?  The disengaged parent, Smartphone in hand, ignores their child during dinner in favor of checking email or posting a pic of their new lawn furniture on Facebook.  Are you as disgusted by this as I am?

Some interesting cases were highlighted in the article.  These ranged from kids singing “Jingle Bells, Batman smells” in a desperate attempt to get dad’s attention to other kids passively eating without any interaction from their parents at all!  How very sad we have come to this as a culture!

While I agree that Smartphones do provide parents with some, and I emphasize the word some here, possible opportunities to connect with their children, such as sending quick “I love you texts” or sharing photos of the day’s adventures, overall it seems that our culture has “taken a mile when given an inch” once again.  From what I see, and I bet you feel the same way, the Smartphone has unleashed some major damage to parent-child relationships and the promotion of positive parenting as a whole.

How do you fight back against the relationship damage caused by Smartphones and encourage some positive parenting of your own?

Start by simply taking the time to communicate with your child.  Yeah, I mean a real-life, face to face verbal interaction!  I know, I know.  This may be so outdated to you Smartphone addicts out there but it is a vital component in any healthy parent-child relationship.  Share a meal together and talk about how your child’s day went.  Take a walk around the block and talk about the difficult class he’s struggling in.  The list goes on and on.

Here’s a few suggestions you can use as a parent to let your child know you love him without the use of an electronic device!

  • Take your child grocery shopping with you.  This is an awesome way to spend quality parent-child time together and get a major weekly chore done!  Depending on age, make your child in charge of a task such as checking items off of the list or picking out a special cereal or snack.
  • Let your child help you cook a meal.  Stirring the bowl or collecting items out of the cabinet are simple tasks your child can help with.  This simple task can do wonders toward building a positive parenting dynamic in your home.  Ever have the vegetable wars?  I bet you have.  Did you know that children are far more likely to try a new food if they had a hand in cooking the meal?  Positive parenting in action here!
  • Wash the dinner dishes together.  This is a great way to top off a family dinner together.  Use washing dishes together as an opportunity to ask your child about his day or follow up on a conversation from earlier in the dinner conversation.
  • Let your child help you sort the laundry.  For younger children, you can use this as an opportunity to teach colors.  Ask them to sort whites in one pile, ask them to find the blue shirts, brown socks, etc.  With a little creativity, you can turn an otherwise boring, mundane household chore into a fun family activity that helps with raising your children to be responsible adults and promotes a healthy parent-child relationship at the same time.
  • Build a play house with couch cushions and bed sheets and play inside with your child.  This can make for awesome Sunday afternoon entertainment.  And hey, just kick back and try to be a kid yourself.  Some laughter with your child will go a long way toward deepening your relationship in the years to come!

Behavior Management Coaching can help parents establish positive parenting strategies and promote stronger parent-child relationships in their home.  We use concise, proven interventions to reduce parent stress and promote healthy relationships and family interactions.  Talk to us today.