What are We Encouraging
In a hurry, we often give children positive reinforcement for the wrong behavior. We don't intend to reinforce, (encourage) misbehavior, however unknowingly we do. When this happens, children continue misbehavior, in spite of our lectures, concerns, frustrations, and anger. It seems that the more we admonish them, the worse the behavior gets.
Therein lies the reinforcement to the misbehavior. Without realizing it, our interest in the misbehavior actually encourages the behavior. Think about it. How much attention, (discussion to family and friends, discussions with the child, contemplation, consequences) are given when a child consistently says their prayers at night.
How many times do we bring up their good behavior at home, at the dinner table? Not very often. However if the same child refuses to say prayers, do homework, do chores, etc... and was adamant enough, there would be much discussion about this misbehavior.
If we aren't careful, we could get into a habit of just looking at the poor performance and poor behavior of the child. We teach them how to get our attention.
In a way, society encourages this behavior. If we talk about our children doing something good, there are very few questions or comments. So many times I made comments about how well my daughter performed, only to get a glazed-over stare, silence or uneasy chuckle in return. However, if I talked about her misbehavior, people would listen, give suggestions, share their horrible experiences, etc..
We are trained to share the negative parts of our parenting experiences and keep silent on what is happening good in our experience.
Let's be agents of change. Let's ask questions about good behavior. Notice good behavior, without prompting from our children. Let children catch us saying something good. You will find that the more good you see in your children, the more good you will see in them.
Try this experiment, tell others about something good that is happening in your child's life. Notice how many comments about the incident are made. Later tell something not so good and notice how many comments are made.
Leave a comment on the outcome, because I'm interested in knowing your experience.