Kids with behavioral symptoms (impulsiveness, lack of ability to self-modulate, and forgetfulness just to name a few) are kids who are being constantly corrected.
They hear their name over and over again, usually tied to a complaint about something that they are doing or not doing. Their room is a mess. They forget their homework. They pushed to the front of the line. They won’t stop tormenting the dog.
Who wants to hear complaints about themselves all day long? Absolutely no one that I can think of. What if we tried turning those complaints into compliments?
“I noticed that you picked up all your dirty laundry and put it in the basket, nice work!”
“Everyone forgets stuff. I like how you owned up to the missing homework and you can bring it tomorrow.”
“Thanks for waiting so patiently in this long line.”
“I can see the dog is happy that you are playing fetch so nicely with him.”
To quote author Ken Blanchard, we should “catch them doing something right.” The way we speak to children really does make ALL the difference.
We talk a lot about positive reinforcement, and our words can be the most powerful reinforcer of them all. Our words can also be a negative reinforcer and along with that comes, yup, more negative actions on the part of the child.
Certainly, there are times when we need to correct and re-direct. It’s my belief that compliments should outnumber corrections at least 5:1.
Taking that a step further, if you hear your child (or yourself even) saying something negative about themselves as a person, I would encourage them to now say three-five positive affirmations as a form of self-care.
Compliments are a gift to the receiver. Let your child catch a compliment rather than a complaint, multiple ones a day.