Stop pulling on the door handle!
Don’t jump on the bed!
Get your fingers out of your mouth!
Don’t you dare kick your brother!
Do NOT run on the kitchen floor with those muddy shoes!!
More often than not, I give my children a STOP message without giving them a GO message. STOP messages are easier, they come more quickly, and they take less effort and thought for most of us.
However, after I learned about the GO message, (and when I remember to use it!) I have found that it actually works. It goes back to Dr. Becky Bailey’s idea of Positive Intent, that what you focus on you get more of.
- When Owen’s hanging on the door handle (and, dang, he loves to do this!), I’ll say, Owen, you may not hang on the door handle. It will break, and you’ll get hurt. Instead, put your hands flat on the door. OR, Point to each of the rectangles on the door as you count them.
- If the kids try jumping on the couch–or bed, or whatever–we’ll say, You may not jump on the (whatever). It’s not safe. You may jump on the floor/ do sitting jumps on the bed/ etc.
- When Cora hits Maddy or Owen, we try to say, No hitting. Hitting hurts. You may hit the drum instead. OR, If you want Owen’s attention, then you look at him and say, ‘Please play with me, Owen’.
I know these responses sound totally strange and hokey at first, but if you find that you, like me, are often playing the role of Maniac Mommy, then just give this a shot.
According to Dr. Becky Bailey, it’s all about giving children a frame of what we DO want them to do or say rather than what we DON’T want them to do or say (think Amy Sutherland’s essay a few years back about dolphin-training our husbands).
On top of that, though, Bailey advocates looking at life with a Positive Intent. The idea behind Positive Intent is that when you attribute positive motives to your child’s behavior, you position yourself to teach and your child to learn. It all jives with her idea of giving children real and valid choices, since even little guys need some say in what goes on in their lives.
Again, like most Parenting Quick Tricks, it’s much easier said than done and takes mucho practice, but we all need a little something in our back pockets for those tough days, right?