Catching the Good.

13 April 2015

Catching Your Kids Being Good

As my mom will attest, after hearing the stories now that we’re older, parents don’t always catch every bad thing you do. 

But, we sure try.  Don’t we? 

Here is a secret and maybe it isn’t my finest parenting hour to admit this...  I have managed to complete convince my children that moms develop eyes in the back of their head.  It’s how I know when they’re messing around when they shouldn’t be.  Dads?  They have a magical parenting power too… super hearing.  Dave knows when it’s quiet… too quiet, it’s time to go searching for the reason. 

As parents, we develop these sixth senses for catching our kids doing all of the things they aren’t supposed to do.  That is our job, right? 

We give a warning with that tone.  We use their full names.  We ask them to consider whether they are doing what they should be doing.  We set limits, we catch them crossing, and put them on the right path, until they learn to do these things for themselves.

Yesterday, Finn was frustrated, tired, and just having a tough day.  Tate was on task, being a great listener, and having a great day.  The difference was unmistakable.  I should also say, there are many, many days when this is the exact opposite in our house.  But yesterday, I found myself gravitating toward reminding him about his attitude and making sure he completed what he needed to do and it felt remarkably worse to him because there she was, doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing, without argument, smiling even. 

I put Tate in the tub and she said something about Finn not being a good listener but, she was and it gave me pause because that isn’t the message I wanted to send.  Instead, I said loud enough for Finn to overhear, that we all have good days and bad days.  I said, there were lots of days that he was a great listener and that after a good night’s rest, is a great time to begin again with a fresh attitude.  Then, I told her that even though I was busy, I really noticed how much effort she had put into cleaning up her room and what a good listener she had been with her dad.  I promised I’d put a fresh coat of paint on her fingernails, something that is a huge treat for her, after she put her pajamas on because she had worked so hard.

Not only did that simple little thing make her light up, but when I went to tuck Finn in for bed, he had done his stuff too.  My nagging for half an hour hadn’t remedied the bad attitude and mess that needed picked up, but overhearing our two minute conversation had.  I gave him a squeeze and told him that I really appreciated that he did those things and that I understood how hard sometimes it is, to turn your day around, but that you always can. 

I kind of feel that way about parenting too.  My friend Kristina, who has more grace and patience in her pinky than I have in all of me, reminds me constantly that even good parents, have bad days.  It’s not about what you’ve screwed up, it’s about making the choice to do it differently next time.   We’ve been doing a good job of catching the bad because we recognize the need to correct it immediately.  Making an effort to catch the good takes some thought, we have to be conscious and mindful of it.  For me, and maybe for other parents too, it doesn’t come nearly as easily, but it’s something that I absolutely think is worth it.  

I’d love any tips on how you catch the good in your own kids.


Bunny @ 86n It said...


Renee Anne said...

Right now, the baby is too little to understand his own behavior (he's only 7 months)...but Little Man is old enough at 4.5. We get frustrated and have all out fights where I'm trying to get him to cooperate and finally I have to drag him to do it. Afterwards, we talk about how things could have been different. He's starting to understand that his negative actions have consequences. He had his iPad privileges revoked for a month (we're on week 3 right now). We're thinking of revoking his video game privileges, as well. He turns into a bit of zombie when he has access to them everyday. So, we're trying different things. I also remind him of good and bad days and how each day is a new start. He's kind of getting it...

Julie said...

In an effort to curb the bad, we instituted a policy that allows us to catch the good more often than I expected, and I love it. While we were trying to stop our almost 4-year-old from having Terrible Two-esque meltdowns, I realized that her losing things for bad behavior wasn't cutting it. So I flipped it around and said she had to start earning things with good behavior. We began a penny jar, where she earns pennies for making good choices and loses them for making bad ones. She can trade those pennies in for things that, under the old "rules", she would lose as a result of bad behavior: desserts, movies, and other special treats. "You earned a penny" have become words of praise on our house, and she gives us pennies, too, when she thinks we're being kind or helpful or good listeners or otherwise making good choices in her eyes. It allows all of us to increase positive reinforcement and recognize when we're doing what we should.

Unknown said...

This is something that I have been trying to work on lately. With a 5 year old who can go into meltdown mode at any minute for any given reason and a very smart ass 7 year old who does;t listen, I am always catching the bad. So especially with the 5 year old I have been trying to positive reinforcement and rewarding for good behavior. I am not sure if it's working or if he has just a turning a point but lately he has been been pretty good. I feel I am always yelling and screaming at them, they don;t listen and it drives me nutty. I just don't understand why they can't listen the first time we ask them to do something. It would make things so much easier. Pick up your mess, pick up your dirty clothes, come when we call you, and so on.......ugh so frustrating!!!! The 7 year old has had all his video games takes away for over a week now and has to earn them back and so far it's working, he's had less attitude:)

Katrina said...

Kids like getting attention and sometimes they don't care if it's negative attention or positive attention. They just want attention. So, if you only acknowledge the positive things they do with positive praise and attention, but ignore the bad stuff...then they will quickly learn that being naughty or acting up will get them nothing. But being good and doing the right things will get them tons of attention. Kids are smart and they will adjust their behavior to the things that get them the most attention. I know this, yet...I still have a hard time remembering to DO this!

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