Stop it! Why are you always fidgeting? Don’t climb on that! Can’t you be still for a moment? Leave your nose alone! Can’t you occupy yourself for a minute? Must you look into everything? Don’t you know that’s not safe? Sit here! Keep your hands to yourself!
We all have used these phrases at one time or another.
It’s easy to fall into negative parenting patterns. The fact is that children don’t mind negative parenting in the short run. Sometimes they are thriving in the attention they get from you even if it is in correcting their behavior. Many times children enjoy controlling you and “pushing your buttons”. However, in the long run negative patterns of interaction have detrimental effects on children’s egos. They start to embody the thought that they are a “bad” child that always needs correction. Meanwhile parents often sense the negativity in the relations with their children and don’t like it. Intellectually we know it isn’t good for our children. Most parents plan on giving their children the best. So it is usually upsetting for us to fall into negativity in parenting. There is great value in being able to recognize when you or your spouse are in one of these patterns. Recognition is the first step in changing this pattern.
Once you recognize a negative mode of parenting there are steps you can take to get out of it. Start by turning off the word faucet. Ignore your child instead of constantly correcting them. If you need to correct them, use action instead of words. A touch on the shoulder or turning them to the right direction often works better than words. Take moments to compliment your child. Thank them for following your correction or instruction. Praise and compliments can help turn the tide on negativism. Employ praise daily. Look up short phrases and words that kids like to hear like “wow”, “way to go”, “I like it when you…”
Try to understand your child’s developmental level. Many kids need to explore, jump and run. Give them a space and time to play with their developing skills. Stop asking silly questions like “Why do you have to…?” or “Can’t you just be still for a moment?” Children are made to move and be curious. It is up to parents to be creative to let them use their curiosity and energy.
Don’t get frustrated with your child’s need for constant vigilance. For certain ages, keeping one eye on your child is a requirement in parenting. Parents must accept this role. It takes a long time for children to become self sufficient and trustworthy.
Children want to call attention to themselves and to push our buttons. These desires often pull us into a negative swirl. We can get out of these by taking appropriate steps. Through these steps we can help our kids feel positive about themselves and we can feel positive about our relationships with our children.