Savvy Behavior Starters
Have you mastered Dr. Phelan's counting technique for stop behaviors but are pulling your hair out for what do do when you need your kids to start doing something? In previous posts, I've discussed Dr. Phelan's book 1, 2, 3 Magic, and his suggestions for getting kids to stop doing something that is troublesome--whining, arguing, etc. I personally have found the counting method he discussed for stop behaviors to be especially helpful, and it gets my three-year-old to remember who's in charge. Thank you, Dr. Phelan! Like you, however, I was wondering what to do when they need to follow my directions to complete a task. Once again, the book provides some helpful tips.
If the task you are asking your child to do will take less than two minutes to start, you can count the kid. If it is something that takes more than two minutes, consider the following tactics: praise, simple requests, kitchen timers, the docking system, natural consequences, and charting. You may need them to pick up their toys or clothes, get dressed, brush teeth, etc. Praise goes a really long way, simply telling them how well they are doing. CATCH THEM DOING SOMETHING GOOD. Kids love to rise to the occasion and be what you praise them to be. A simple request is simply that, simply asking the child to do something. Kitchen timers can be set for any length of time, though keeping it realistic, usually 5-15 minutes for most things. Let the kitchen timer do the talking for you so that you don't become that nagging parent. Next, the docking system is great if you give your child an allowance. When the child doesn't comply, you can take money from him/her. You could also give the child a choice--either you do it or I do it for you but you have to pay me! Wouldn't it be nice for once to get paid for being a parent?! Natural consequences is one of my favorites. If the kid is not in danger of being severely hurt, let the consequences of behavior teach the lesson. I've done this before in the summer when my three-year-old would not put on her shoes to go outside. I warned her she would burn her feet on the hot pavement. but she persisted. I let her go, and sure enough, she would yelp in pain, running into the house to grab her sandals. Lesson learned! Charting is another option in which you list all the behaviors you want them to be doing in an age-appropriate way, of course, and give them stickers as they complete them. For odler children, consider adding a prize when they get all the stickers. For younger chldren, the sticker may be enough.
You've just been given a crash course in how to get your child to start doing what you ask, which is what you are wrestling with every day. So though there may be challenges, take heart that these tips can give you a direction to begin so that you feel capable, confident, and EMPOWERED!