Parenting Thoughts: On helpful interventions

Parenting Thoughts: On helpful interventions

Conflict will always come up, especially when young children are playing in the same space. How do you help your child on the road to better social skills? If you want that child to listen to what you have to say, and to muster the energy to do better, you’re going to have to avoid embarrassing her or making her feel attacked

This post explains some ways to intervene in moments of conflict, to help your child learn alternatives and improve her behavior.

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Parenting Thoughts: On Struggles

Parenting Thoughts: On Struggles

Any time you’re caught in a power struggle, drop your end of the tug of war rope, and then take time to think about how you want to handle the situation. As always, return to the key questions: What is the child learning from the situation? What do I want him to learn? How can I best make that learning happen?

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Parenting Thoughts: Watch your “BUT...”

Parenting Thoughts: Watch your “BUT...”

It’s helpful to first convey understanding their needs and desires. Conveying that you understand children’s (or adults’!) perspectives helps them feel supported so that they are more ready to receive the next part of your message.

Starting out with a command or correction makes children (or adults!) feel attacked, so they’ll respond defensively with protest or argument rather than listening to what you have to say next.  Starting out with a statement of understanding helps children (I’m not going to say it but you know who else) feel that you’re an ally, so they can stay relaxed and open to your next comments.

This post covers the one-word switch that will take you from attack to understanding.

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How foreshadowing can help prepare your young child for what's coming

How foreshadowing can help prepare your young child for what's coming

Ever handle a situation badly because it didn’t go as you’d expected?  This happens to your toddler all the time!  While we can’t prepare them for every aspect of a situation, we can tell them a little bit about what to expect. 

This post shares a technique called foreshadowing and how it can help you help your toddler understand what's going to happen.

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Being polite: Your secret weapon to motivating positive behavior in children

Being polite: Your secret weapon to motivating positive behavior in children

When we approach our kids politely and kindly, they are free to hear our message because they don’t need to deny it to defend themselves.

They’re open to our message, and they feel good about trying harder to do it differently.

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The Problem with Time Outs

The Problem with Time Outs

The parent of a two year-old recently asked me about time out.  Her baby-sitter uses time out with all the children, but this parent wasn’t sure about it.  Does time out work?  what’s the right age to start? The answer is that there is helpful time out and unhelpful time out.

Unhelpful time out is the modern version of “Go stick your nose in the corner.”  This is the kind of time oust where a child must go to a time oust chair or room and stay there until an adult allows him to get up.  this kind of time oust is a punishment, and it had several pitfalls.
 

Read more to find out what they are and how to help your child get calm and centered.

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Toddler Tips: Being a Model

One of the most important things to know about discipline, and one of the easiest to forget, is that in all things, you serve as a model for your child.  Your interaction with your baby constantly teaches her two things:  specific behavior, and how the world works. For example, when you slap your toddler’s hand, you teach him to slap when he’s angry or needs to stop someone, and he learns that physically hurting can solve problems.  When you shame her with words like, “No no! Naughty girl!”, you teach her to use those words, and that shaming others is appropriate.  When you snap at your child, she learns to speak snappily.  When you lose your temper in frustration, your toddler absorbs the lesson.  Your toddler uses all his interactions with you to store information about the world that he will use as he grows.

When you give your child information (“The sofa gets dirty when we climb on it”), positively phrased requests (“Keep the water inside the bowl, please”), describe how you feel (“I don’t like to be pulled”), and use gentle follow through (“I can’t let you yell at the store, so we need to go now”), that’s what you teach your child to do.    When you express frustration appropriately, and then move on, your toddler sees the model for working through those feeling.  She will use these skills more easily with you, her friends and siblings as she grows.

Learn to observe yourself as you talk to your toddler. If you feel really brave, tape record yourself for a morning and see how you sound.  Think about what you are modeling for your child.  When he’s talking more to you later, you will be glad you did.  Even when you don’t see him imitating your actions right away, he is storing actions and ideas about how to interact with others.  Most of us have had the experience of saying something just the way our own parents did, without even meaning to.

It is a blessing and a curse that we are our children’s teachers all the time, whether we want to be or not.  The biggest payoff to disciplining and relating thoughtfully comes when your toddler grows into an older child, because the way you talk to her now sets the stage for the way she talks to you, and others, later.  I’ve been amazed at how powerful it is when my daughter can constructively express a problem to me--well worth the effort I put into being constructive with her.

by Justine Saffir

Toddler Tips: When Your Child Hurts Another

If you have a toddler, chances are you’ve found yourself in the position of facing the parent of someone your child has just hit, thrown sand at, or grabbed a toy from.  Handling the situation is always doubly difficult because you’re trying to look like a “good parent” as you try to guide your child.  Here are some suggestions to make the next time a little easier. First, stop trying to look like a “good parent.”  Your job is to be a responsible parent who teaches your child, not a “good parent” whose child suffers as you seek public approval.  As much as you can, handle it as you would have with no witnesses.  Anyone who doesn’t respect that should be looked upon with compassion, but otherwise ignored.

State the limit to your child without moralizing.  Witnesses tend to bring out the lecturer in all of us.  All your toddler will hear is s “Blah blah blah...” or “Daddy doesn’t love me” when what he needs is “No hitting.  Scoot over if you need more space,” or “Julie’s using the truck now.  Your turn in a minute,” as you calmly move him or take his hand off the truck.

Give your child helpful suggestions.  What do “You need to share” or “Use your words” or “Be nice, now” really mean to a toddler?  Use concrete, specific language whenever you can.  “Michelle’s using the shovel.  Michelle’s turn.  Look.  She’s done.  Your turn now.” or “No pushing.  Let’s tell him: ‘Robert doesn’t like you so close.  Move over.’”  Model the words you’ll want your child to use when she has more language later.

Remember that very young children aren’t capable of sharing all the time.  They need to fully experience ownership before they understand giving it up.  They’ll need lots of adult help to take turns, wait for turns, or understand that something isn’t theirs.

Don’t make your child apologize.  This usually backfires by putting him so on the spot that he’s too embarrassed to do anything, or by teaching her to apologize insincerely, or that apologizing erases a misbehavior.  Toddlers may learn to shove and apologize in one smooth motion.  Instead, model sincere, compassionate apologizing by doing it yourself.  “I’m sorry Robert pushed you.  That hurt, didn’t it?”  This way, your child will learn about saying “sorry” when he really means it, in a voice that conveys this.

Finally, don’t worry that the child who bites and stands there grinning is a heartless, future psychopath.  Rather, this is the beginning of conscience developing.  He’s not grinning out of joy, but more likely out of embarrassment or guilt or advance defensiveness if he knows you’ll be there to enforce limits.  His reaction shows that he does know this action was not OK.  Understanding that will help you respond sensitively.

by Justine Saffir

Toddler Tips: Respectful Communication

Respectful, open relationships between family members are probably every parent’s goal, but they take a lot of hard work to achieve.  And it’s never too early to start.  By laying the foundations with your toddler through your everyday interactions, you’re setting the stage for better relationships later, when crucial issues are at stake.  As your toddler’s language skills grow, here are a few tips for respectful communication.

  • Don’t ask questions if you know the answer.  You’re either forcing them to lie or incriminate themselves, or you’re making conversation a test and a risk for them. Instead of “Did you draw on the wall?” say “Oh no! Marker on the walls!. Let’s try to clean it up.  Here’s the sponge.”  Instead of “What color is this?” say, “Oh, you’re drawing with the BLUE crayon now.” to help your child learn colors.  If you want to play a questioning game with your baby, you might say, “Want to play, ‘What does the doggie say?’”
  • Don’t force your child to tell people things.  “Tell Grandpa where you went yesterday!”  You will end up telling Grandpa yourself anyway, and your toddler will feel put on the spot.  Instead, try, “Ryan went to the zoo yesterday!” and let Grandpa and Ryan guide the conversation from there.
  • Get down to your child’s level when you converse with her.  Then you can make real eye contact and show her you’re really listening.
  • Tell your toddler your plans for him.  Toddlers are victim enough to adult plans and schedules.  The least we can do is inform them.  “We’re going to the grocery store now.”  “I’m going to change your diapers when we go inside.”  “I’ll make a phone call while you eat your lunch.  Then we can read a story.”  Imagine how you might feel all strapped up in a carseat with no idea where you are going or for how long.
  • Avoid shaming or name calling.  Instead, give him information or positive requests.  Rather than “Bad boy!” try “Wall are not for writing on.  You may write on the paper only.”  Rather than “You know better...” try “This is breakable.  It’s just for looking at.”  Rather than “That was mean!” try “This is Sarah’s turn for a hug.  Your turn in a minute.”

You may find, as I do, that when I try to remember too many things at once, I fail at all of them.  If any of these ideas appeal to you, you might try working on one at a time.  This week get down to his level, and then when you’re finding that becoming automatic, try working on asking questions more effectively.

by Justine Saffir

Toddler Tips: Encouragement

Think of a time when someone paid you a compliment or thank you that really felt good.  You probably saw yourself as a more capable, worthwhile person as a result  (and you were probably anxious to be helpful toward the source of those kind words, too!)  Now consider the many opportunities we parents have to appreciate our kids’ actions every day.  Obviously, there is a tremendous opportunity for self-esteem and co-operation here, if we learn how to make the most of it.  Here are some suggestions Traditional praise tends to evaluate or label the child without giving him much specific information.  “Good boy!”, “That’s a nice girls”, “I’m proud of you.”  She learns to work at your approval, but not necessarily at cleaning up, sharing, or whatever it was you were so happy to see.  She learns to look outside herself for approval and value.  She may feel uncomfortable about living up to the label, or unloved when she does not.

Encouragement, as opposed to praise, focuses more on the child’s specific behavior and real assets, so she can come to value herself, see herself as competent, and value kindness for its own sake.  Try to:

  • Describe:  “You drew straight lines, and some dots on your picture.”
  • Be specific:  “You put that cup right by the sink for me.”
  • Point out how her actions impacted you:  “Thanks!  That hug really cheered me up.  Now I’m smiling.”
  • Point out how her actions impacted others:  “John is happy to have a turn on the swing.”
  • Point out the consequences to her actions:  “You climbed right into your chariest.  Now we’ll have time to stop and get you a drink on the way, so you won’t be thirsty like last time!”
  • Comment on meaning to the child:  “You really enjoyed painting today.” or “It must feel good to finally climb up by yourself.”
  • Be honest:  Even a toddler knows insincerity when she hears it.  Instead of “It’s all clean”  try “Look, you’ve gotten the black spots off, and they were tricky.”
  • Find the positive to encourage:  She may not have had a great day, but “You waited in line for a drink.  That was hard.”  She may not have gone to sleep, but “You remembered to stay in your crib until naptime was over.”

Once you get past the extra effort of phrasing your encouragement, you’ll find it begins to come naturally, has powerful effects on your child, and feels great when she’s old enough to start using it with you.

by Justine Saffir

ACCEPTING FEELINGS WITH SUPPORTIVE LISTENING

As parents, we want our children’s world, and our family, to be happy places where everything is going well.  We want to fix our children’s troubles, solve their problems, and give them the advice they need to avoid difficulty in the future.  Unfortunately, guided by these noble goals, we often respond to our children in ways that shortchange them by giving our children the message that their feelings aren’t OK, by robbing them of the chance to learn to solve their own problems, and by being so unsympathetic that our children eventually quit talking to us about their problems.

Imagine that you come home after a long day at work, and say,

I had a terrible day at work!  I’m tired of the way my boss treats me!”

Imagine how you feel when your partner responds:

“Oh, knock it off!  In this economy, you should be thankful you even have a job, instead of complaining about it all the time!”

“What you need is just to sit down with her and tell her she can’t get away with that.”

“I’m sure you’re over-reacting.  You know how sensitive you are.  You’re probably blowing it all out of proportion.”

“What did you do to annoy her?  You must have done something to her!”

“Well, I think you’re great at your job, so what does it matter what your boss thinks?”

“You always have such a problem when your work is criticized.  You should be more confident in your own abilities.  I wonder why criticism’s such a threat to you?”

When our children are upset, they don’t want us to moralize, instruct, minimize or deny their feelings, be overly reassuring, or analyze them, either.  These responses hardly leave them open to our wisdom.

Now imagine your partner says:

“Sounds like you had a long day!  Problems with your boss can make the whole job feel awful! I bet you could use a hug.”

That’s what our kids want, too- to know that they’re being listened to, and that their feelings are understood.  (This leaves their energy free to think about responding to their problem, instead of using it up getting angry at their parents.)  This is called reflective or active listening, and it’s really just listening and responding with a look or a statement that shows you heard.  It’s a smile and nod, a well placed  “Mm hmm”, or in it’s longer form,  sounds something like this:

“Daddy, the boys won’t let me play!”

“Sounds like you’re feeling left out.  That can feel sad.”

     Instead of “Well, they told you that you could play later.”

“Why did you have to come and spoil everything?”

“I bet you wish you could make me just disappear!”

     Instead of “Because it’s 5:00 and dinner’s almost ready, that’s why!”

“Send that baby back!”

“It sure can be a pain having a new baby sister around.”

     Instead of “We didn’t send YOU back and you cried more than this!”

“I can’t find my baseball mitt anywhere!”

“How frustrating!  I hate when I can’t find things.”

     Instead of “If you put it away like I told you, you’d find it once in a while.”

“Jenny always gets to go with you!”

“It doesn’t seem fair to you that you have to stay home.”

     Instead of “Jenny does not always get to go with us. She stays home plenty, too.”

“But you promised you’d play a game with me!”

“You’re disappointed that we didn’t have time. Me too!”

     Instead of “Well, I didn’t know the car was going to break down when I promised. I had      to fix it or nobody could go anywhere tomorrow. It’s not like I had a choice, you know.”

When we listen supportively to our children we give them several gifts:

  • Since we’ve accepted their negative feelings, they don’t have to “prove” anything by being consumed by them.  They’re free to move past those feelings, and move on to accepting or responding to the situation.
  • Since we stand by as sympathetic support, not fixers, our children practice coming up with their own solutions to problems, rather than being dependent on us to solve their problems for them.
  • Since they know we’ll lend a supportive ear, our kids know that they have a safe place to come to, even when they get into trouble.
  • Our children learn from our model how to be a supportive listener with their siblings and friends.

The irony, (and another benefit of being a supportive listener), is that by resisting the urge to jump in with our opinions or to take over our children’s problems, we actually end up having more influence over the choices they make.  This happens because when kids perceive us as supportive listeners, as people who are on their side, they are less defensive, and have less need to protect their independence by refusing to listen to us.  They are more open to hearing what we have to say, and more open to looking at the situation from our side, because whether we agreed with them or not, we were there to fully listen to their view, their side, first.

Children in Relationship:

What to Expect and How Adults can Help PART ONE: WHAT TO EXPECT

Children are born to be in relationship. The eventual goal is to learn to belong and at the same time to have an individual identity. Children grow into relationships in an ever-widening circle: Primary caregiver ⇒ parents ⇒ family ⇒ extended family/family friends ⇒ peer friends. Peers are actually gearing up for peer connections from a few months of age. Babies are drawn by interest to other babies and almost magically to siblings. Interaction with siblings is qualitatively different than to parents. Self-Esteem is: one’s sense of uniqueness, sense of competence, and sense of belonging.

There is a cycle of ups and downs to children’s emotional life. Myth: Terrible 2’s & 4’s Reality: Easy 2’s, Defiant 2 ½’s, Easy 3’s, Defiant/emotional 3 ½’s, Fun/out there 4’s, Emotional/out there 4 ½’s, Eager 5’s, Touchy late 5’s/early 6’s, Social/extremist later 6’s, Woe is me 7’s, Bouncy/out there 8’s

There is a progression to young children’s social development. Parallel play ⇒ Cooperative play ⇒ Interactive play ⇒ Highly negotiated interactive play More interaction = more conflict (and more opportunities for prosocial behavior) Disputes increase as awareness/skills/sophistication increase. This is an important part of play. With increased peer importance: the joy of love and inclusion; the agony of hate and exclusion School is a different world than home. It is their world; kids will play and interact differently. Gender differences increase particularly at two points: age 4 and age 7. At these points we see jumps in gender-separate play, and in the incidences of exclusion (girls) and aggression/competition (boys), especially in the spring, when children bloom with flowers. Social problems are not an interruption to preschool and primary curriculum; They are the most important part of the curriculum!

Gender differences are real and biologically based. Girls’ priority is belonging through connection; boys’ priority is belonging through status. Girls’ play is often relationship based; boys’ play is often action based.

Physical aggression is common in the preschool years. Kids don’t hurt kids “for no reason.” They hurt kids because in response to needs. Children need to learn the alternative ways to get their needs met, and have a chance to practice. Physical aggression is infrequent in kindergarten, rare in first grade.

Exclusion play is common in the preschool through adult years. Exclusion isn’t about the excluded child; it’s about protecting interactive space/relationships. Exclusion serves to affirming relationships and to protecting the integrity of activities It is also a logical response to black and white preschool thinking: good/bad, my friend/her friend Exclusion is on the road to learning to wield benevolent power.

  PART TWO: How Adults can Help

Recognize opportunities for learning about life and relationship. There are both advantages and negatives to having siblings. Our job is to strengthen positives and reduce damage from negatives. Our job is to be sure kids are learning relationship skills in the process.

Be clear on family values and limits. Examine your values. Where are your priorities? (Privacy, support, teamwork, honesty?) Express and model those values to your children. “I’ll be sure and return Dad’s scissors right away because we always make sure to…” Establish limits for how family members interact that reflect your values.

Allow honest feelings. Don’t deny feelings - use supportive listening. Don’t require a “happy family” or “we’re all friends here” facade. Remember that having our negative feelings accepted allows us to move past them! Convey to kids that relationship ups and downs are normal and OK. Keep your own sense of humor.

Value the uniqueness of each child. Build one-on-one relationships with each child. Support privacy and ownership (when appropriate) to convey respect for the individual. Avoid comparing children (as we always see ourselves as the less desirable). Help children out of family or social roles they’re stuck in. “Equal is less”- give what each needs and teach children it’s not about keeping score.

When children fight Unhelpful intervention: “Knock it off”, take a side, solve their problem for them. Let them work it out on their own IF they have the skills and ability to use them right now. Helpful intervention: Teach them skills to use with each other: Positive requests (“what do you want him to do?”) Polite voice Talking about your own feelings Choosing to leave a situation Choosing whether to argue Interpret for children (“Jay says you took his block.” “Lea says you weren’t using it.” “Jay says …”) Offer “Talk it over” chairs or a “Peace table”. Give them responsibility for solving their own conflicts and problems. Teach them about tattling (to get someone in trouble) vs. informing (to keep someone safe). When it’s about peer pressure, speak to them separately and individually

What does "Keeping Kids Safe" mean?

We say that our Number 1 job is to keep kids safe in bodies and hearts. We work hard to be sure our classrooms and play yards and families are emotionally safe. But what does safe mean? “Safe” might mean that a child suffers no emotional injury and feels no pain. Or, “safe” might mean that the child suffers no permanent psychosis, or that “I lived through it, so it’s safe enough.” Obviously, neither of these extremes feels right, but think for a minute of why that is. OK, so it’s pretty easy to say why “no permanent psychosis” is too extreme a definition of safe. We know that far less severe emotional damage than that can permanently affect a child, and that emotional injury can impair one’s ability to function in the world and relationships, and to live a satisfying life. There’s  not much question that by “emotionally safe”, we all agree we mean much safer than that.

It’s more difficult, but more important, to consider why “no pain” isn’t a good definition, either. The reason is that whatever safe means, we want our children to be safe for their whole lives, not just for today. We want them to have “high EQ”, emotional intelligence, or an ability to experience, respond to, and recover from emotional upset smoothly. As we think about parenting for the long term, we see why a little discomfort and pain is actually safer for our children in the long run.

We know that as they continue through life, loss and pain will be a part of our children’s lives in ways we cannot control. They will lose precious items, they will experience deaths, opportunities will be missed, relationships will end. We can’t prevent these very painful parts of life from touching our children. If our children aren’t able to cope with these emotional injuries, they will be traumatized. The only way to learn to cope with emotional pain is to understand its nature, and to know and be able to use the skills needed to cope well. Achieving this requires a certain necessary amount of practice.

Then our reasons for not protecting our children from all emotional hurt become clear: If we keep our children so safe that they hardly experience emotional pain that we do not immediately fix for them, they miss the chance to learn how to cope with it throughout their lives. When life throws the big stuff at them later (or sometimes sooner), they will not be prepared, and they will be much less safe than they would have been had we let them get hurt a little along the way. By allowing our kids to experience a little emotional pain, we leave them more resilient, ready for a happy life no matter what life throws at them.

So perhaps the best definition of keeping our kids “emotionally safe” is this:

♥We prevent huge, overwhelming emotional hurts whenever we can.

♥We support our kids through all emotional pains, big and small.

♥We allow, and maybe even embrace, smaller emotional hurts as learning opportunities, and we use them to help our children learn strategies for understanding, responding to, and getting past their hurt.

♥Offering support from the adults (plural). Let her know if a situation at school sounds like one in which the children need more help from the adults with limits, guidelines, reminders. Show her that communities like ours pitch in to help their children learn, that it is important to us that the children learn not to be mean, and that setting up guidelines helps to prevent problems.

♥On intervening: There is a huge difference between receiving mild hurts and inflicting mild hurts. When we see children participating in an action that will cause another pain, we must intervene immediately. While we can expect all children to be hurtful from time to time, we as adults should not allow it. This means that, because we expect it, we don’t flip out over it, but we do have a plan and we do respond immediately, by letting them know we see that their action is causing pain, and that we won’t allow it to continue. One of the ways we convey our values to our children is through which behavior we allow and which behavior we do not allow. We can let children know that they can expect and can handle hurt feelings in life; but that we expect that they will not intentionally hurt others. So when you see a child inflict hurt on another, even a small hurt, you do her a disservice if you don’t intervene right away to let her know that she could have done it a better way.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Many parents are concerned about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, but aren’t sure how parents can help their child tune in to his or her own desire to do things, rather than look for outside motivation or rewards.   The benefits are obvious.  We want our children to internalize positive behavior, values, and beliefs so these become a part of the child.  The child whose actions are motivated by the desire for a reward, or to avoid a punishment, is going to perform these actions only when the reward, or the punishment, is there.  Those choices don’t become a part of his value system, a part of his sense of self.  He doesn’t build his sense of self- responsibility for his actions and decisions.  He doesn’t take one more step toward being “self-governing." So what can parents do to help?  Don’t use rewards and punishments!  Instead:

When your child has done well, rather than rewarding good behavior with praise, treats or privileges, encourage the child to internalize the pride in his positive choices and actions by supporting him with comments like:

You painted trees, and flowers down here, and blue birds!

It feels good to help out a friend who’s in trouble.

You got frustrated, but you came back to it and finished the job.

You got all your homework done with time to spare.  That must feel good!

The idea is to be sure your responses focus on the meaning to the child by describing his actions in specific details, highlighting his own sense of accomplishment and pointing out how his actions reflect positive values.  Rather than your words being a reward, you want your words to spur the child to tune in to his own internal sense of satisfaction, and, in effect, reward himself. The trick is to respond in a way that the child feels good about what he did, not what you said.  A person who looks for reward from within will make the right choices all by himself.  A person from without comes to see the reward as the reason for an action, (whether it started out to be or not!), and is less likely to make the effort when there’s no reward available.

When a problem comes up, focus first on solutions that work for you and your child.  Rather than threatening or attempting to manipulate your child, discuss the problem and the options with him openly and honestly.  He’ll see the values and principles that guide your decision making, and see himself as an active and responsible decision-maker as well.  When follow-up action is necessary (necessary meaning you haven’t been able to solve the problem any other way, not necessary meaning you want your child to suffer a little “to understand how serious the situation is”), use logical consequences rather than punishment.

You may wear your helmet when you ride your bike, or I’ll need to ask you not to ride, because I need to keep you safe.

You may sit quietly at the movie, or we’ll need to leave the theater, because other people’s rights need to be protected.

You guys can clean the rat’s cage twice a week, or we’ll have to give the rat away to a good home, because somebody’s got to make sure he’s being properly cared for.

You may return my tools promptly and clean, or I won’t loan them out anymore, because I’ve got to keep them in good shape.

The emphasis is on the child’s choosing to be responsible, or allowing you to take responsibility instead.  Allow the child to help you decide on appropriate consequences, and on how long it will be until he’s ready to try again.  The idea is to focus on seeing that things are taken care or, not on “making the child pay” for misbehavior by suffering a punishment.  Punishments leave the child ready to sneak or lie to avoid punishment, but not to see it as their job to take responsibility.  Worse, when we’re degrading or angry as we give the punishment, we make a child feel defensive.  A defensive person blames someone else for the mistake, not himself.  For a child so see his own responsibility for a mistake, and to internalize the desire to do better next time, parent’s responses must be calm, non-blaming, and focused on problem-solving and responsibility.

The more often you remember to avoid rewards and instead help your child’s own good feelings be his reward, the more often you avoid threats and punishments and instead focus on solutions and responsibility-focused consequences, the more you are building your child’s ability to be intrinsically motivated, the kind of person who’s guided not by desire for gain from outside, but by principles, values and a sense of responsibility.

Justine Saffir, Co-Director Westside Preschool