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Parent-Child Interaction (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Apr 23, 2014

Pillars of Attitudes

These pillars represent the next stage of behavior management and relationship building. They are the ones that will help you guide normal behavior and recognize mistaken behavior. They are tools that will help you evaluate what has taken place. You will more clearly understand daily occurrences and difficult situations. You will be able to identify the cause of mistaken behavior and be ready to act appropriately when it is time to take an action. No matter what has happened, these attitudes will leave you feeling positive, in control, and helpful. You will feel confident that you are making the best decisions, ones completely in the best interest of both you and your child.

  1. Separate the Behavior from Your Child. This is the first step to take when your child does what you perceive as some kind of mistaken behavior. Mentally separate out the behavior from the child whom you love. For example, say to yourself, "The milk: has spilled" and "I love my child." This act starts the process of recognizing behavior as a separate entity—something you can do something about-and then being aware of the continuation of your love for your child. When you take this action, you will see that even if you do not like what your child has done, you continue to feel love for your child.
  2. Identify the Cause of the Mistaken Behavior. Once you separate out the mistaken behavior and can see it clearly, you will probably also see clearly the reason it happened. Going back to the above mentioned example of the spilled milk, you may realize that you placed the glass too close to the edge of the table. If that is not the case, you may realize that you filled the glass too full of milk. Another possibility is that you should have used a plastic cup instead of a glass or that the milk was a poor choice in the first place. In any of these cases, you may realize that you might have been part of the cause.

    Identifying the cause of mistaken behavior is important because eliminating the cause is the best way to keep the problem from happening again. Once you identify the cause, the next step is to learn to eliminate it. In that way you will be able to prevent this situation from happening again. If you discover your child is not the cause, there is no need to withdraw any kind of reward. All you need to do is explain what happened, reassure your child, and continue with what you and your child need to do.

    On the other hand, if your child was the cause of the problem, explain what happened, teach your child more appropriate behavior, and then withdraw some kind of impending reward. Teaching is the critical link. If the situation becomes emotional, it is best to take some time before you talk about ways that your child could have handled it differently. Knowing this information, he or she will be in a better position to act differently the next time.

  3. Listen and Communicate. While this is especially good to do all of the time, it is extremely important after you have separated the behavior from your child. If you have difficulty identifying the cause right away, here is an effective tool to help you find out what was on your child's mind. This process will help your child understand him- or herself as much as it will help you understand your child. Hearing is accomplished by a 70/30 ratio of listening to speaking. That means that you should listen to your child about 70 percent of the time and talk about 30 percent of the time. Your part of the conversation should be made up mostly of either asking questions that will stimulate your child to talk more or by nurturing your child's talk with words like "oh, good" and "really?".

    There are basic stimulation questions that you can ask. With the word "what" there are questions like "What happened?" and "What did you think about that?" With the word "how" there are "How did that happen?" and "How did you do that?" With the word "why" there are "Why did you do that?" and "Why did you say that?" These are open-ended questions that will not lead to yes or no answers. Another way to get more information is with "tell." "Tell me more about ... " and "Tell me what you mean by ... "

    As conversation begins to develop, you can begin nurturing it. There are specific words, phrases, and sentences that are effective for this purpose. Here are some that work effectively: "I understand. That's a good point. Sounds important." Interject them appropriately in the conversation.

    Finding out from your child that he or she was hungry, tired, or upset can teach you a lot about avoiding this same problem in the future. In addition, all of this attention will help your child feel cared for. secure. and understood. This positive attention will ultimately help him or her behave better in the future.

    Listen and communicate with your child as often as is possible. You will gain important information, and you will bond. Besides doing wonders for handling present situations, this kind of give and take will help you guide and support your child throughout all circumstances.

    Keep rapport in mind as you and your child converse. Try to use a similar pace and tonality. In this way you will not talk at your child; you will talk with your child. In conjunction with this kind of rapport, it is helpful to be on the same level physically. Bend down if you need to be in a lower position. If possible, be in the same position.

    Going back to the original example about the spilled milk, you may find out something like this. Your child was so upset about being yelled at in school by his teacher that he did not even notice the milk on the table. He flung his hand by accident and sent the glass of milk flying. He became even more upset about spilling the milk and breaking the glass. Since the whole incident compounded his already hurt feelings, you can see how inappropriate withdrawal of a reward would have been. You can also see how valuable listening and communicating are to understanding your child's behavior.

  4. Be Positive, Warm, and Supportive. When you find your child in a problematic situation that is causing difficulty, it is time to work on the problem. With your child, try to find solutions. Be the best friend you can be to your child and do all you can to help. As you play this role, you will be building your relationship with your child. By being positive, warm, and supportive, you will be showing that you believe in your child. The more you believe in your child, the more he or she will be able to believe in him- or herself. Moreover, when you take this approach, you are modeling effective relationship behavior for your child. This is behavior he or she is likely to emulate with others. Being the recipient of positive warmth and support is basic to the development of empathy and morality. As you build your daily relationship through interactions with your child, be positive. Try to focus on what your child can have as opposed to what he or she cannot. It is better to tell your child that she can play with a toy after a friend has finished with it than to tell her that she cannot play with the toy. In addition, try to acknowledge good behavior when you see it.

    With open-ended warmth, you express unconditional love to your child. One thing you cannot give your child too much of is love. Your child is a special kind of container for contributions of love. It is a container that cannot ever run out of room. It has the capacity to take as much as it can get and then always has room for more. Therefore, feel free to give as much of it as possible to your child in as many ways as possible and at all times. Filling your child with love is like providing him or her with an ongoing supply of fuel for success.

    No matter what is going on with your child, you can react in a supportive way. Even if a situation turns out to be your child's fault, and even if you need to withdraw a reward, you can do so in a caring way. Once you separate out the behavior from your child, you will continue to be able to show love for your child.

    Believing in your child turns out to be a major concept. It has far-reaching effects. If you believe your child has a special ability, more often than not, he or she will end up having that ability. If you do believe in certain ability, then you will probably do whatever is in your power to help him or her become outstanding in that area. This belief, combined with your actions, will translate themselves into your child's belief in himself or herself and consequent actions. This ability will become a reality.

  5. Be a Person, Not a God. Try to present yourself as a real person to your child. Share with your child real thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Feel free to make mistakes and also to follow up with sincere apologies. With this attitude, you will be showing your child important respect. Besides expressing yourself, seek your child's thoughts, feelings, and ideas as much as possible.
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