How is your week going? Are you ready to find out how to rock parenting?! Let’s dive right in.
If you haven’t already done so, you can read the introduction to this series here.
This post is full of super useful information, so grab your caffeine and let’s get started!
Today I am going to introduce you to the Parenting Pyramid, which will be the foundation for this series. I was introduced to the Parenting Pyramid when I was getting trained as a Triple P (Positive Parenting Series) provider. It was then again shown to me by a psychologist. The pyramids were a little different but the underlying theme was exactly the same. So based on both of these pyramids, I designed my own parenting pyramid. Here is the parenting pyramid that I created:
You can print a .pdf version of this pyramid here.
The key to this pyramid is that you want to spend most of your time in the bottom half of the pyramid. What does positive parent-child interaction look like? We will dive more into that in a minute but for introduction purposes, just know that this is where you want to spend most of your time. The theory behind the pyramid is that if you spend most of your time in the bottom half of the pyramid, you won’t have to spend so much time in the top half. Kids want positive interaction with their parents. They crave it. Take a minute and think back to when you were a kid. Did you not want positive attention from your parents? A lot of kids act up because they need your positive attention. I totally get that life gets busy and it is hard to constantly give your kids attention, but you can carve out some time each day to do this. I promise it pays off.
So, let’s get into what positive parent-child interaction looks like. When you are positively interacting with your children, you are doing the following:
Descriptive praise is just that – it is praise that is descriptive. Let’s say your child builds a tower. To a child, there is more power in saying “Great job building that tower!” versus just saying “Great job.” Be descriptive and make sure you find opportunities to praise them. Kids love hearing that they are doing a great job. Heck, I like hearing that I’m doing a great job.
When you give your child attention, you want to make sure that it is positive. Last night, after bath time, my 2 older boys wanted to watch a movie. I put my baby down for bed and put on a movie for the other 2. I thought, “Hey, this is a great time to work on my parenting series.” Quinn, my 3 year-old, however, had other ideas. He started climbing all over me and acting crazy. I could have gotten mad and started yelling and put him in time out which would have taken a lot of time and would have been a negative situation, but guys, he just wanted attention! I put the computer down, and said in a calm voice, “Quinn, why are you climbing all over mommy?” He said “I want to snuggle you.” So I snuggled him for a little bit and then he got up and went over to play by his brother. Which one was a more positive experience that showed Quinn that he was more important to me? Both would have taken the same amount of time, but I was able to have that positive experience with him.
One thing that I want to focus on is Special Play with your child. You can print out instructions on how to do this here (I had to scan it in so there are 2 pages – front & back). Special Play is all about letting your child direct the play. Download and use the guidelines as you set aside time to play with your children. One thing that I want to point out on this is that your child is the one who directs the play, not you. That means that if your child wants to play dolls, you play dolls. If he or she wants you to be the baby, you be the baby. Another important thing to note is that you look at, touch, smile at and laugh with your child. Basically you are having a lot of positive interaction. Read with your child also! Read, read, and read some more! Reading and child-directed play (Special Play) are great forms of giving your child positive attention.
Even if you take 20 minutes every day to give your child positive attention using these guidelines, the payoff will be tremendous!
Talking With Your Child
It is so important to talk with your child… a lot. Let your child guide the conversation. There was a study done at Stanford University by Fernald in 2013 that showed that if a child has limited exposure to many different words during their first 18 months of life, then the development of their language processing and vocabulary skills are greatly hindered. This causes speech development delays as early as 18 months of age. You can read the study here.
Here are some ideas of how to talk to your child:
-When you are in the car, turn off the radio! You have a captive audience. Talk about things around you, the colors they see, what happened that day. Ask questions and make sure you let them answer!
-Go on a walk and talk to them about all the different things they see in nature.
-Talk in the grocery store.
-Put them in your lap and talk
There are so many opportunities throughout the day to talk with your child. Take advantage of these opportunities!
Next, “make sure you have interesting activities.” I once heard a saying that “A bored child is a naughty child.” I don’t really like this saying because I don’t believe that any child is necessarily naughty. Sometimes they make bad choices, but they are not naughty. But a bored child might make bad decisions. This is why it is so important to make sure that your children have interesting activities. In our house, we have a play room upstairs and a play corner downstairs. Both are stocked with books, toys, puzzles and other activities to keep our boys attention. We also have several activities to do outside (sand box, trampoline, etc) for those nice days. Make sure they have engaging activities. This will cut down on unacceptable behavior.
Incidental teaching is all about taking advantage of those teaching moments. There are so many teaching moments in everyday that we as parents can take advantage of. Just tonight, Kirby (my 6 year-old) spilled toothpaste in the drawer while he was brushing his teeth before bed. He came out of the bathroom and said “Mom, I accidentally spilled toothpaste in the drawer.” This could have gone 2 ways: I could have gotten upset and cleaned up the mess and that would have been that. Or I could calmly and lovingly teach Kirby that it is ok to make mistakes and that we just need to make sure that we clean them up. Which one is going to teach Kirby? Scolding him for making a mistake is just going to make him feel bad. Instead, I decided to turn the situation into a positive teaching experience. Now he knows when a mess is made that it needs to be cleaned up.
There are several studies that show how important showing affection is to children. Making eye contact, giving hugs, rubbing their back, telling your child that you love them. These are all so important for a child to know that they are loved and cared for, which, in turn, will help decrease behavior problems. I absolutely love to snuggle my boys when it is time for nap. We snuggle, give kisses and say “I love you” before they fall asleep every day. It melts my heart when Quinn snuggles up to me and say “I love you mommy.” Even with babies, it is so important that positive affection is shown. I love to give Brexton (my 9 month-old) a lot of kisses, snuggles, smiles and “I love you”’s. It is extremely important that kids know that they are loved from an early age.
Behavior charts are a great way to reinforce positive behavior. You can find so many great behavior charts on Pinterest. Once you print the behavior chart, sit down with your child(ren) and let them know how they can earn stickers on their charts. Let them know the reward for filling up their charts. Also, make sure that the goal is attainable and that you leave plenty of room for positive praise. For example, if you make it that they have to clean up their toys every day for 3 weeks before they can get a prize, they will be less likely to stick with it because it is not as attainable as something such as cleaning up their toys for 3 days. The shorter amount of time allows for positive praise and will reinforce the behavior (picking up their toys). One more thing to note about behavior charts is you don’t want to have too many activities on the chart. 2-4 activities that your child(ren) can earn stickers for is plenty. If you have too many activities, your child will feel overwhelmed and the chart will not be as effective. Pick the most important tasks and stick with those. Once they have earned the stickers, make sure they get their prize.
So there you have it. That is the essentials of the bottom of the pyramid. A lot of positive interaction with your child will really cut down on the amount of time that you need to discipline and correct your child(ren).
In the next two posts, we will cover the top part of the pyramid – what to do when you need to discipline or correct your child. I will give you two different methods that have proven effective with most parents. I will also show you video of exactly how to do this! Make sure to subscribe at the top of this page so that you can be notified when new posts are published!
What are your favorite ways to spend positive time with your child?
Also, make sure you head over and like my “That Mom Life” Facebook page for discussion on these topics.
I can’t wait to hear your positive experiences with your kiddos! Have a great week everyone!