How many times a day do we say these things to our kids throughout the day? And often in a LOUD, BOOMING voice.
Want to know why those big reactions don’t work to change behavior?
1. Loud voices scare kids, and scared kids “listen” less.
2. Your kid automatically does more of what you give BIG attention to. So, when you give an unwanted behavior your attention, in a BIG LOUD way, you’re (accidentally) asking for more of that behavior.
Here’s an example:
You’re enjoying exactly 22 seconds of time alone, washing dishes, when suddenly, little brother rips a toy out of big brother’s hands. Big brother instantly SCREAMS LIKE HE’S BEING STUNG BY BEES and hits little brother.
You turn the water off, storm into the room, rip the toy out of their hands, and LOUDLY say, “THAT’S ENOUGH! NO HITTING, WE ARE DONE!”
Real talk? Your HUGE reaction brings more chaos to the chaos, which is like throwing gasoline onto the fire.
So, here’s what you should do instead.
In that moment, you CALMLY, confidently step in – without a loud voice – and hold the boundary: “You’re angry and you want to hit. I won’t let you. I’m going to keep brother over here to keep him safe.”
And if you’re ready to REALLY level up? Rather than give your attention to the “bad” behavior, you want to focus on the “good” stuff you want more of. It’s a concept we call “Spotlight the Right.”
Here’s what it sounds like:
“I noticed you shared that toy with your brother. That was really kind of you.”
“Wow! You’re sitting calmly next to your baby sister! I think she likes that!”
“Hey! I noticed you were having a really hard time putting your pants on, and instead of screaming, you just calmly asked me to help. Your calm words helped me understand what you needed! How do you feel? ”
The idea is to spotlight the right—so you get MORE of the “right’ behavior! And real talk? YOUR perspective of your kid just might shift in the process. It’s kind of NICE to spend your day focusing on the good. It feels kind of GOOD to notice the good, instead of harping on the no’s.