Tip of the Month: The Parent as a Teacher/Coach

See your role as that of a teacher or coach to your children. Demonstrate in detail how you would like them to behave. Have them practice the behavior. Give them encouragement along with constructive criticism.

• Try to set aside time on a regular basis to do something fun with your children.
• Rather than tell them what not to do, teach and show them what they should do.
• Use descriptive praise when they do something well. Say, “I like how you ____ when you ____.” Be specific.
• Help your child learn to express how he feels. Say: “You seem frustrated.” “How are you feeling?” “Are you up set?” “You look like you are angry about that.” “It’s O.K. to feel that way.”
• Try to see a situation the way your children do. Listen carefully to them. Try to form a mental picture of how it would look to them.
• Use a soft, confident tone of voice to redirect them when they are upset.
• Be a good listener: Use good eye contact. Physically get down to the level of smaller children. Don’t interrupt. Ask open ended questions rather than questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Repeat back to them what you heard.
• Make sure they understand directions. Have them repeat them back.
• When possible give them choices of when and how to comply with a request.
• Look for gradual changes in behavior. Don’t expect too much. Praise behavior that is coming closer to the desired goal.
• Develop a nonverbal sign (gesture) that your children will accept as a signal that they are being inappropriate and need to change their behavior. This helps them to respond to your prompt without getting upset.

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