PRAISE POSITIVE, GUIDE NEGATIVE
How often do you praise your child? Parents often ask how to praise children when all they see are the wrongs and not the rights. But do you know, every child craves for parents' positive attention, even if it's something small, your child deserves your praise and acknowledgement? If children do not receive recognition for good behaviours, they will learn that doing good is not going to earn them positive attention. Children will then resort to getting attention the negative way (e.g., parent's nagging, hitting, yelling). Because having negative attention is still better than not getting any attention at all.
1. When you ONLY react to children's wrongdoings, you are giving attention to the negative behaviours, and these behaviours will be more likely to recur as children seek for your attention. Positive behaviours will then decrease.
2. When you give positive attention and praises to good behaviours, the good behaviours will recur because your positive attention makes them feel acknowledged. This reinforces children to behave better and negative behaviours will then decrease.
Children are fast learners. They quickly understand and learn how to behave (either positively or negatively) according to their environments. As parents or educators, your positive attention is their best reward. The quality of your attention serves as a powerful tool in shaping desirable behaviours and reducing negative behaviours (see parents and emotions).
How to Praise Positively
1. Be Present
Be mindful and be in the present with your child, physically and mentally. Catch them in their good behaviours and praise immediately. You can't do that when you are always staring at your phone/tablet or busy with work. I recommend doing things together with your child. In that way, you will get to know their behaviours better.
2. Do Not Overlook Tiny Behaviours
No matter how tiny or insignificant positive behaviours are to you, it may be a big step and effort from your child. Making an effort to share toys, able to sit down and finish their meals, helping chores at home, all these positive behaviours may seem to be something a child HAVE and EXPECTED to do, but it's not. Don't be stingy on those praises!
3. Praise Process, Not Results
Efforts are part of the process of achieving certain behaviours. Instead of looking at the results (behaviour), we should focus on the process (efforts). How we praise is important. Often, we see parents and educators praise "Good Job!" or "Well Done!" and that's it. But if we really zoom into that, which behaviour or effort were they referring to a good job well done? When we praise, it is important that we include the process, instead of just the results. For example, "I really like how you sit nicely and finish your meal", "I love how you are so generous and thoughtful to share your toys". We are now acknowledging their efforts and values. We are placing importance on their character, instead of their achievements.
So remember, praise! Flood children with your positive attention, and in turn they will respond with positive feedback too.