I recently heard a phrase on a Focus on the Family broadcast that I used years ago with my own children. Parents were asked to call and give a secret to raising godly children. One dad’s comment on the broadcast was to ‘catch your toddler being good.’
I agree 100%.
Sometimes my reactions as a mom can become habitual. Let’s just say that my third child tends to be the one who will generally be found guilty, if one of the children is caught in a ‘crime.’ After a few days of his naughty behavior, I will almost expect him to misbehave. I will look at him in ‘that’ way, and my tone of voice when I talk to him, will probably reveal my frustration. It can become a habit. I may not even realize it at the time.
Unfortunately, I have found that if I am not giving my child positive reinforcement, eventually, he will misbehave. Negative reinforcement is at least attention.
Once I understood that, I used my trusted Post-It notes to help me turn things around. (Post-It notes are my favorite organizational tool) I listed each child’s name on a note and stuck it behind a kitchen cabinet door. Before I sat down to eat lunch, I would check my Post-It note, to make sure that I caught each child doing something good. Once I hugged and kissed and made a big deal out of something one of the children did, I would make a tiny mark next to their name on the note.
Sometimes it took a lot of imagination to find something good. And….I often had to stage a circumstance.
Some examples of ‘catching’ my just turned 2 year old granddaughter yesterday:
– “Olivia, you make Bubba so happy when you treat your brother with such a gentle hand” (She just gently touched her newborn brother’s cheek)
– “Olivia, I noticed how nicely you are playing with your friend! Yay for you!”
The results are powerful! It easily became a habit both for me, and for the children. The top item on my daily To-Do list continues to be looking for ways to reward acts of love with love.
The spirit in my home changed when each of us intentionally started looking for good behavior.
(Intentionally making a point of giving thanks to God and each other is also a wonderful way to change the atmosphere in our homes. But that will be another post)
I’d love to read your thoughts about catching our toddlers and children being good!
Photo of Olivia ‘unloading’ the dishwasher.