Children often resist when we say no. Naturally, they have ideas about how they want things to be and they want some control over their lives. Parents and caregivers can create a positive environment that encourages cooperation through some simple communication skills. Remembering to use these skills is the challenge for a concept called positive noticing, which is the encouragement of behavior you want to see.
To engage in positive noticing, first think of the positive qualities you would like a child to develop. When you see those behaviors, notice them and use specific praise, such as:
Specific praise is much more effective than global praise such as “Good job!” because it highlights particular traits and actions. A great thing about using it often is that it helps us become more positively focused ourselves.
When it becomes a habit to respond this way, we see more positive things all around us.
An example of this would be if a child won’t come put on pajamas when it’s time to get ready for bed, a caregiver might say, “When you have put on your pajamas, then we can read a story together.” This keeps the child focused on the positive thing that will happen afterward.
For example, ask, “Would you rather wear the blue pants or the red ones?” or “Would you like an apple or an orange?” For the child who is resisting getting into the car when it’s time to go: “Would you rather hop to the car like a bunny or see if you can walk backwards to the car?” This turns the perceived challenge into a game and could get a child more focused on fun.
The when-then and offer choices strategies go together well when a child is having a particularly difficult time going with the schedule. For example, the child who wasn’t getting pajamas on might need an additional positive focus after hearing the “when-then” statement. The adult may say, “After your P.J.’s are on, would you rather brush your teeth before or after your story?”
These strategies are just a few of many others that can contribute to positive interactions and cooperation.
For more ideas, a great resource is “The No-Cry Discipline Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley (www.pantley.com/elizabeth).