Boys Town parenting puts a great deal of focus on positive consequences vs. negative consequences. The idea is if you catch them being good and recognize this, you will head off the negative behavior and not have to give negative consequences. I have been trying at home over the past few weeks with a serious focus on catching them being good and making good decisions and rewarding them for the behavior. While at times, catching them being good might seem impossible; I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be a big thing.
We took a bike ride last night and I had 7 kids with me…not all my own. Not sure if you have ever tried it but coordinating 7 kids on bikes while on a bike is not the easiest thing. When we started, I asked that they all go to a certain point then stop and wait for everyone to catch up. They actually all listened! So I got off my bike, made a big deal about how great they listened and gave them each a high five. Because the kid in the lead did such a great job setting an example for those behind him, I told him he could lead the rest of the way. It worked great! The kids listened and never griped about waiting for others to catch up. And I never had to give a negative consequence for them not following directions or crossing the street before I said it was ok. The whole tone of the bike ride was positive, all the kids knew exactly what to do. It was a total parenting win!
The other thing that I’ve noticed is that the bigger and sillier the reward is, the happier it makes the child and the more memorable it will be for them. A few weeks back, my 7-year old son cleaned the basement on his own accord. It was amazing, I’m not sure what spurred it but as a family we made a point to give him a two-minute standing ovation when he came upstairs. It was silly, fun and effective. He was a little embarrassed by the attention but he started doing random things to help out around the house without being asked.
I have noticed a really big difference in my kids since putting a focus on this, but most of all I have noticed a big difference in myself. My parenting is happier and WAY more positive. The majority of my parenting is on a happy note and it is teaching my kids respect and kindness.