Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ways to stop negative cycles

Dan Gartrell is the director of the child development training program at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. He gives five ways to stop negative cycles. The first one is to provide children opportunities to do positive activities  they do well such as cleaning up or building with blocks. The second way is to give positive feedback for these activities, "Thank you for cleaning the cat litter box when I asked the first time." The third way is to observe negative interactions with friends. For example, if every time the child has a friend over there's a fight over a particular toy, take notice of that. Then find ways to reduce the interactions a much as possible such as putting the toy in a safe place while the friend is over. The fourth way is to carefully select activities children do without failing. For example, if you know a child is good at ballet, give them ballet lessons. The fifth way is to break difficult tasks into small manageable ones that guide the child to know how to accomplish each task. For example, if a child has a history project due teach them to do the research first, then put it in order they want to write it in, and then write the actual paper.

To avoid negative expectations and reinforcing negative behaviors, parents should observe children carefully, deliberately, and sensitively and attend to children who exhibit the kinds of prosocial behaviors the parents want. One way to do this it to make sure each child receives affirmations each child deserves. Affirmations are positive messages about an individual who has unique needs. Affirmations encourage children to be who they are and are expressed by people being interested in each individual and showing appreciation for each individual. This is the small things like saying thank you when a child does what's asked. This is telling the child you're proud of the grade they got on an assignment or test. This is showing respect to a child.

This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to parenting. Respect isn't a one way street that leads from children to adults. It's a two way street that leads from the parents to the child and back to the parent. A person can't expect, much less demand, a child show an adult respect if the adult doesn't show them respect. A parent can't treat their child one way and expect and demand they treat them a different way. It doesn't work that way. Treat your children the way you want them to treat you. Behave the way you want the child to behave. Treat others the way you want your children to treat others. Don't expect of them what you don't and won't expect of yourself. Send and teach positive affirmations through word and deed to your children.

A child who is used to getting only negative attention will reject attempts at affirmation. Children who are used to getting only negative attention are experts at attracting negative attention. To change the behavior of a child whose self-concept is negative and only receives negative affirmations from the environment, adults need to focus their self- image on any and all sides of positive behavior. For example, if you see a child clean up a siblings part of the room, tell them how nice it was that they did that and how you as the parent appreciate that they did it. Little by little the children's and adults lives will come to change as the child's view of themselves changes. Parents can change a child's self-image by changing the child's behavior and the child begins to learn they can engage in prosocial behavior which will cause positive affirmations to occur. Adults don't let children engage in destructive behavior because this reinforces a child's negative self-image, while providing constant attention to negative behavior. When children begin to receive attention and positive messages from their environment and those in it, the child will slowly begin to trust again and probably first with a significant adult because adults are usually more forgiving than peers.

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