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My Parenting Truisms

Parenting TruismsMy friend– and fellow Babble Voicer– Mr. Lady wrote today about three things she’s really glad someone warned told her about raising kids and it got me thinking about what I have learned these past eight years.

Just like Mr. Lady, I have discovered that not everything I have read or have been told by friends or parenting professionals is applicable to my child, but here are three lessons I am glad I have learned and couldn’t agree with more.

These are the things I know to be true:

Active Ignoring REALLY Works
I’m sure you’ve heard it before ignore him and it [negative behavior] will stop. That’s true, but it’s slightly more complex than that. Stay with me as I explain. When faced with a child’s negative behavior (as long the behavior is not harmful to himself or others), active ignoring is really the way to go. After you’ve told the child ONCE that you don’t approve of the behavior, you start to ignore it. That’s right. You steel yourself, bite your tongue and hold back from showing any emotion whatsoever. However, you must instead find an equal amount of opportunities to praise the child for positive behavior that is correlated. So, let’s use the example of cursing.

When my son was going through a potty-mouth phase I would catch him using language appropriately and PRAISE him for it. For example, when he used big vocabulary words, I would say Hey that’s a really advanced word you just used, it makes you look very smart when you use it. Or, when I saw him speaking kindly to someone, I would praise him similarly. Forget the second part of this technique (praising positive behavior) and it’s not Active Ignoring, it’s negligence.

Research-based studies (and my experience included) have shown that at first you’ll see a rise in the negative behavior. And, I think that’s why some parents give up. Because it does get worse before it gets better. However, it’s soon followed by a dramatic decline in the behavior because your child will soon discover that the attention-seeking is not working.

Give a Cranky Child a Bath
Wouldn’t you want to sneak away and go soak in a bubble bath when you’re having a bad day? Yep, put an ill-tempered kid in a bath and turn the day around. I can’t remember from whom I got this advice but my son was a toddler when I did and it always works.

When my son was younger we would spend time with bath toys. On days with cabin fever, we’d do a morning and afternoon bath. Now if he’s cranky after school, I recommend a bath before he starts his homework. It always works like a charm.

Do As I Do, Not ONLY As I Say
This is the hardest one, because you KNOW it’s true, but it’s hard to do. You can tell your child something over and over, but if your actions contradict even the slightest bit your actions you know you child will be following what you do, not what you say.

A perfect example of this is our children see us on our technology all the time, more than we realize. We try to limit their “screen time.” Yet the truth is we have yet to learn how to curb our own.

My personal example? Every time I hear my own sassy tone echoed in my son’s voice, I know exactly where he learned it. Then I cringe.

Then I promise myself I will do better.

Photo source: Thinkstock Photos

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