Teach Children What To Do

One of the first Positive Discipline tools I learned was—teach your children what to do— rather than what “not” to do.  It started for me before my boys were even talking and I still teach them every day. Some examples include:

  • When my son would hit me, or a friend, at daycare—I would say, “How do you touch nice?” Then I would take his hand and show him.
  • When my son would scream as a toddler, I would playfully show him the silent scream or ask him if he wanted to scream outside?
  • Dressing themselves—as early as the age of two. This includes brushing teeth and hair. (My boys feels so proud of themselves for being able to dress themselves that they now refuse to let me help—even when I’m in a hurry and it seems like getting that buckle buckled is taking forever.)
  • Climbing into the car seat and helping with the buckle. Instead of a fight, they seem very proud of their ability to do it themselves.
  • Cleaning up their toys—this included a lot of handholding and modeling.
  • Teaching my oldest son to tell his baby brother what he could do, use, play with, rather than what he couldn’t. (This one is daily—with lots of reminding).
  • Pouring their own cereal and milk—and when they spill or make a mess—I teach them how to clean it up. (With encouragement of course and defiantly with no shame or blame)

The main concept of this tool is—don’t do anything for your children that they can do for themselves. Often times, parents will do too much for their children—in the name of love.  They don’t realize that they are depriving their children of the sense of self-reliance and feeling, “I am capable.”

My husband still has a difficult time with this tool because our boys often don’t match their clothes and their curly hair combed straight can look (in our eyes) absolutely ridiculous. However, when I see their faces and their posture just scream pride and self-reliance. I personally would rather have my boys develop good self-esteem and independence than boys who are dressed fashionably matched. J

One story I often share with people (which they find hard to believe) is that I grew up with a live-in housekeeper and nanny. My mom clearly instructed her that she was not allowed to clean our rooms, do our laundry, pack our lunches, or wake us up in the morning. She wanted us to learn the pride and capability of having those skills. I was setting my alarm, and doing all my laundry by 8-years old.  My mom also made sure she left us at least 2-chores a day. I remember being confused and even sometimes mad as a child, because it didn’t make sense to me. I would ask my mom why we had a housekeeper if my brother and I were doing all the work. I totally understood it during my first year of college and having several roommates who didn’t know how to do anything for themselves. Once again, thanks Mama!!

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