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Look For The Positive Elements In Negative Behaviours

Look For The Positive Elements In Negative Behaviours
A mother asking for help.
Her 3 year old is starting to behave in a really difficult way
(she said AWFUL)

He throws his food and milk all over
He doesn’t listen
And she’s having a hard time.

She’s requesting ideas on how she can reach him.
She has tried many different things and nothing is working.
Here is my response to her:
Look For The Positive

One thing to try is to actually look for the positive elements in negative behaviours.
For example if a kid throws a glass of milk across the kitchen… that’s pretty annoying!!

Our impulse might be to say – “that’s an inappropriate thing to do”
or some variation of that thought.

But really, when one is 3 or 4 (or even 44!)
throwing a glass of milk can be quite fun.
Throwing is fun, seeing liquid fly is fun
and it makes a pretty pattern on the floor.

So there IS something nice about the experience.
And throwing in general is a pleasing activity.

Connect With Their Perspective And Add A Slight Modification

By focussing on the positive aspect of the behaviour
and encouraging a slight modification
you can bypass any possible defensiveness and still teach a lesson.

eg. “Hey that was a good throw.
You can really throw well.
I love to throw things as well.
We should find more opportunities to throw things together.

How about we throw some milk outside
or some water in the tub
or some apple juice off the balcony?

Does that sound good?”

Really get into it, make your kid believe that you are happy with them

“Look how pretty the milk looks on the ground.
Only thing is I have to clean it up.
Maybe we can play with the milk on the floor together
then clean it up together
because I LOVE doing things together with you!

Then we’ll find other places to throw stuff
I’d rather we do our excellent throwing in a more excellent location
where we can both really have a lot of fun.

Would you like to do some throwing with me later?”


It’s Worth The Effort To Be Consistently Positive

Granted this is a bit more work than saying
“NO! You don’t throw milk!”

But if we can continually emphasize the positive traits in our children
and gently modify them, they will resist the changes much less.
In fact they will often embrace them beyond our expectations.

Give Them Power Over The Situation

Then if you can add giving them some power in the situation
Things can go even better.

Let them come up with some crazy and creative ways to throw stuff
Let them be the boss of the clean-up and decide how it’s done

Taking this uncommon positive approach will have an immediate effect upon your child.
He won’t know what’s happening at first.
Soon he’ll feel so validated, understood and accepted
That his whole attitude will change.

He will feel more connected to you and will lose the urge to fight with you.

I encourage you to try this idea and see what effect it might have.
When trying a new approach it takes time to see longer lasting change.
You might have to be persistent for a while, be patient and the result will come.

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