I am a clinical psychologist with years of education and clinical experience. But, just because I am a clinical psychologist, it does not mean I have it all figured out when it comes to human behavior. Some of my most head scratching, challenging, yet rewarding moments have been as a mother of my two young children, who light up my life. My husband and I are currently seeking support to help us with communicating with our children.
Motivating them to do things, like the bedtime or morning routine, sometimes feel like it is going to take an act of God every…single…day/night. I have tried all kinds of things to motivate my children, including lists, picture task charts, one-word prompts, gestures (brushing teeth hand motions), ignoring the negative behavior, raising my voice, yelling (I admit it), and rewards like “as soon as you get your clothes on, then you can watch your train videos.” Believe me there are a lot of these gems on Youtube. Some things are sticking. I about fell off my chair when my 5 year old son said that he needed “to get ready for his day before he played.” What? Do you mean what I say is actually sinking in? Small victories
Since the morning and bedtime routines can be a time where I just want to put my head under the covers and leave it there until they are magically transported to bed or school, I have been seeking out my own education (via therapy and resources) on the realm of communicating and motivating my children. It only took one session for me to go, “I totally get it.” We, my amazing husband and I (two psychologists), have been getting this wrong for years. Yes, we have been “rewarding” positive behavior or so we thought. We have not been ignoring the negative behavior in the truest, most pure (read “effective”) way. We have ignored the behavior, but the frustration that has been seeping through hasn’t been doing anyone any favors. Other missing pieces to motivating our children have been to follow-up on the prompt or request with specific praise, like ” I really appreciate you deciding to put your clothes on before we leave the house” or “You made a good choice to…” It sounds so simple, but somehow it evaded my husband and I.
I am excited to discover more parenting pearls and share them here. How many of you can relate to the frustrating tasks of motivating kids to do x, y, z? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas of what has worked for you. Thanks for reading. I hope to see you back here next time.