Baby1’s school organised a series of parenting talks based on Common Sense Parenting last year and I attended a couple of them. Boy, these talks and the book were really very useful!
First and foremost, you need to identify THE problem. Obviously (or maybe not very obvious), the child is NOT the problem. It is the behavior which can be heard, seen or measured. Thus it is not the naughty/ noisy/ good child that is the problem; it is a particular behavior.
Children being children, they do not know the ways of life yet, hence adults will need to teach them first. We need to teach them to say the “please” and “thank you” first if you want them to say “please” and “thank you”. Contrary to social norms, social skills need to be taught.
Then, we need to do Preventive Teaching so that the child knows what to say or do in future situations (ie know when to apply what). Parents need to (1) calmly describe and (2) let the child see why she needs to do that. Then (3) practice it. I find that Preventive Teaching is the crux, because kids really need to understand the rights and the wrongs. For parents, this greatly helps reduce stress by preventing old behaviors from occurring again, or are especially useful for new situations like a dental visit.
When there’s a positive behavior, praise cost $0 and is effective. Praise for the things that the child is already doing well; praise the child when there’s small improvements; praise the child for trying new skills, and also praise her for her honesty (even if it’s something bad). But do be mindful to show your approval with sincerity, and remember to describe the behavior. Use this chance to reinforce it in her so that it clicks/ appeals with her and that she appreciates it. You may optionally offer a *reward (read: may not necessarily be monetary or material).
When there’s a negative behavior, we need to do Corrective Teaching. Teach as it happens. Give a #negative consequence. Describe calmly what is expected. Practice it. And follow up. Act with love, be brief and clear, be consistent, and be on the same side as Daddy.
Even though this is called Common Sense Parenting, I find that these are not common sense at all. Let’s constantly remind ourselves:
“Keep calm and parent on”
* Positive consequence such as touch/ attention, words, activities or special treats. Which one appeals to the child most?
# Negative consequence includes taking away something that the child likes, things that she don’t like and wants to avoid, or adding a chore