Habitot Children's Museum

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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
12 Things Great Parents Do:
“Catch” Kids Being Good

Loving our children comes naturally, but the art of parenting is a skill, and like any other skill it must be learned and practiced mindfully. Part of Habitot’s commitment to our community is to support parents in the crucial and precious task of raising young children.

For 2010-2011 we are expanding on parenting wisdom from local psychotherapist and parent coach Dr. Erica Reischer who has composed a list of “10 Things Great Parents Do.” We are adding two “great things” or our own and each month we’ll share research and our observations of tens of thousands of visiting families to illustrate how using the “great things” list will for work you and your child.

This month’s topic: “Catch” kids being good, and tell them specifically what you liked.

Kids really do want to please their parents and they thrive on constructive, positive feedback. When children learn that they will get noticed when they behave well, this strengthens their good behavior patterns. .

We are often more likely to reprimand a child who is doing something wrong than we are to give positive feedback to a child who is doing something right. It’s easy to do when their undesirable behavior is very noticeable and their desirable behavior is not as obvious. All children need and seek attention, so if we spend more time pointing out their unwanted behavior, that’s the very behavior we are sure to get more of.

Here are some tips on “catching” your kids be good:

    • Keep feedback specific—tell your child exactly what you liked. Avoid global statements like “You’re a good girl.” These types of statements don’t give your child enough information about what she needs to do. Describing the specific behavior you want and expect from your child helps her understand what you want to see from her.
    • Keep your comments purely positive—don’t mix them with negative statements as in “You got dressed all by yourself, but your shoes are on the wrong feet.” The word “but” is an eraser, wiping out the praise part of your statement. Celebrate the positive and save the lessons for later..
    • Make a point of finding something good to say about your child every day. This may seem difficult at first, but once you get into the habit of spotting good behavior it becomes increasingly easy to see.
    • Be genuine and sincere. Studies have found that even children as young as 18 months can tell when a parent is not telling the truth.
    • Catch them in the act if you can. The more immediate your recognition is the more likely children will associate the good feelings they have with the behavior they did.

Our children often become who we tell them they are, so if we help them see how helpful, loving, giving and independent they are, that’s the very child they will grow up to be!

To see the complete list of “10 Things Great Parents Do” or to learn more about Dr. Erica Reischer, please visit her website at www.DrEricaR.com. You can also get a hard copy of the handout in the purple parenting cart in the museum.

Parenting Resources

The Art of Positive Reinforcement Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M.Ed., C.Psych.Assoc. (2000). Aish.com Web Site: http://www.aish.com/f/p/48931157.html

Catch Your Child in the Act ... of Doing Good! Vonda Skinner Skelton, RN. (2001). Keep Kids Healty Web Site: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/parenting_tips/discipline/catch_your_child.html

Positive Reinforcement. Destry Maycock, MSW. (2010). Natural Moms Web Site: http://www.natural-moms.com/positive_reinforcement.html

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