Correcting a Child in a Positive Way
Cues to Break into Inappropriate Behavior During Conflict
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Give choices to break into the energy of anger. Ask the child to look at his own behavior. Cue the child and tell him what you want him to do.
- You can choose to use your firm, fair and friendly words, not your ugly words.
- I understand, right now you are feeling mad. What can you do with these feelings?
- You have a choice: Talk out your feelings or go to time out and get your mads under control. (Somehow the use of the words “mads” makes angry feelings acceptable to children.)
- Thanks for catching yourself when you felt like hitting. Good choice! What do you do now?
- Do yourself a favor. Look at what you are doing right now. Do you like what’s happening? What would be a better choice?
Cues For Self Empowerment to Use After Your Child Misbehaves
Give choices and ask the child to see the situation from a different perspective:
- You can go cool down at the back of the room or stay right here. What’s your choice?
- When you are quieter and back to yourself again, we can talk.
- When you feel bad inside, the only thing that will help is to talk to someone about it.
- Look at the expression on ___’s face. How do you think he feels inside? Did you ever feel that way? Tell me about it.
- I know how you feel, sometimes I get mad myself. Then I tell myself, “It s okay to be mad if you are firm and fair about it.”
Ask the child to own his own behavior and correct his error:
- What did you do to get yourself in trouble? What would be a better choice to make?
- You can figure out what you did wrong and do it right next time! Let’s figure out some choices. Put yourself in ____’s shoes. How do you think he felt when you teased him?
- Are you being part of the problem or part of the solution right now? How could you change that? We can feel good inside when we go for solutions.
- You are the kind of kid who can own up to what you did and take care of your own bad feelings.
- I believe in you. Sometimes it’s tough, isn’t it? You are one terrific kid.
Helper Words Helps Children Change Their Thinking and Behavior Patterns
Helper words or internal self talk helps the child remember ways to handle tricky situations. The research shows what Chinese educators have known all along: kids’ memory improves when they talk out loud to themselves. The child’s verbalization of a positive phrase to remind himself how to act helps him store this information in the brain. Group responses, chants and repeating the positive phrases many times daily out loud will help children to internalize concepts that emphasize self esteem building. The trick to working yourself out of a job as the intervener of misbehavior is encouraging the children to remind themselves what they can do to take care of themselves during conflict.
Help children learn to use these and other Helper Words statements:
- I feel good about using my words to talk things out
- I give up put downs – I stop myself from saying put downs
- I notice and speak up about hurts
- I own my mistakes – I feel good about correcting my mistakes
- I don’t have to hurt back after hearing about a hurt I caused
- I see how my positive actions affects others
- I calm my anger – I put my anger in a place where it won’t hurt anyone
Cues from caring adults are a primary means of instruction for teaching social skills. Adding these positive cues will help children take responsibility for their own behavior and learn to express their feelings. Repetition is the best way for you and the children to learn new skills. Say these cues over and over again!