Today I want to share with you 4 quick and easy steps to take when correcting your child’s behaviour. This is a simply system that I learnt through the book, “No Drama Discipline” which is one of my favourite books for Gentle Parenting (I’ve got a whole list of them).
This system works great with toddlers but I think it’s easy to apply it to older children as well.
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STEP ONE: Connect & Address Feelings
Connection before correction! Get down to your child’s level and you can say something like, “You’re feeling [angry, frustrated, disappointed] because you really wanted [to keep playing, climb on the coffee table].”
By doing this you are looking at things from your child’s point of view and letting them know you care about how they feel. This connection strengthens trust and makes it easier for the child to receive correction.
STEP TWO: Address the behaviour
This can just be a simple observation (without guilt or shame) about why that behaviour is not ok, “Hitting hurts,” or “Climbing is dangerous.” is a way to address the behaviour.
Avoid saying things like, “Only bad kids hit people,” or “Are you trying to kill me? I was so scared to see you climbing up there.” These comments can make a child feel bad and actually distract from what you really want to achieve in that moment.
By keeping the language simple and to the point it will be easier for your child to absorb what you want them to learn in that moment, which is that that behaviour is not ok.
STEP THREE: Offer alternatives
Once you’ve addressed the behaviour that isn’t ok, tell your little one what would have been ok instead.
As adults it might be obvious to us what the good thing to do would be, but your child might not be aware of that. If we only use language like, “Stop,” and “No,” without offering alternatives our child can end up feeling frustrated because they don’t know what they are allowed to do.
You can say things like, “Use gentle hands to get my attention,” or “Next time you want something off the coffee table walk around.” Whatever you would prefer your child to do in that scenario, let them know.
Give your child the tools to succeed by leaving out the guessing game of what is and isn’t ok.
STEP FOUR: Move on
Go find something else to do together and redirect them to another activity. No need to dwell on it any longer than necessary. It might seem like it would be more effective to repeat ourselves (and very tempting, especially if we ourselves feel frustrated) but when someone repeats themselves a lot, you just learn to tune them out.
For our kids it’s the same. If we lecture and go on and on about their behaviour they will stop listening. Imagine making a mistake at work and your boss going on and on about what you did wrong, wouldn’t you prefer to stop listening? And next time they come to correct you you might already be think, “I get it!!” before they even start talking.
Make correction easier next time by keeping it clear and to the point.
Try this technique and let me know how it goes
Is there anything you might add or do differently with your child? Have you found that certain strategies work better with one child but not the other? I’d love to hear about it so feel free to comment and tell me all about it.