If your child is acting like a "sad sack" a little too often these days and you're thinking or saying, "Look, it's not THAT bad!" I have a couple of things for you to try, other than just getting frustrated and trying to help your child feel better with reasoning, again and again.
In the morning write a list of all your child's best personality traits. Think of at least 10 characteristics that you can spotlight throughout the day. Take time to think about this before your child gets up. It's the most important step. Make sure to include a couple about how great your child's voice sounds when they're happy!
Also, practice these words before your child gets up.
"You look like you may feel _______. Is that right? OK, I understand but I don't respond to that tone of voice."
You can be calm because it's such an assertive and powerful statement, there's no need to raise your voice or get emotional. You've acknowledged their feelings and you're willing to help, but you don't respond to that tone of voice or body language they're using.
Now., when they wake up....
Give your child sincere verbal perks based on the list you made earlier. Remember that it's much better to praise a child for effort or for taking on a challenge than for being smart.
"You kept yourself so happy and busy while I made breakfast, Thanks! That was helpful."
"I love the way you sing while you play!"
"Thanks for saying that so nicely to your sister. It sets a great example for her."
When they cry or whine say, "I don't respond to that tone of voice", and spend some time teaching them what to say and how you DO want them to say it. Talk about pleasant, happy and bright voices. Notice every time your child uses such a nice tone.
Encourage them to use "I" messages such as,
"I'm mad because Kayla took my marker."
"I need help with this problem"
ALL FEELINGS ARE OK, ALL ACTIONS (OR WORDS) ARE NOT
Be creative but the bottom line is this...
Avoid giving undue attention for sadness. Help your child with the problem, don't help them to feel sad or sorry about it.
Remember this. You can't MAKE a child feel better and you want to avoid helping them feel sad by giving them too much attention for it. If they come to you with a sad sack tone and face, don't give them attention until they ask in a nicer way. Don't ignore the problem, just refuse to talk about it until they can communicate in a better way. This is teaching.
People want to be recognized for their efforts to do well in the world. Use this 2-step method to give loving attention and positive words at the right time. It really works.
Want to talk more? Join us on our new forum, Coffee and PIE (Parenting Information Exchange). Join us now, put the kids to bed and head on over for some relaxation, fun and conversation. Love to see you there!
Nanci J Bradley is an author, teacher, parenting and health coach, and an all around fun-loving person who believes in eating for energy, healthy weight, sleep, fun and most of all, the power of PLAY!
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