TALK BACK: the power of praise

I had one of those out of body, super surreal moments last week where I literally heard my voice coming out of my mouth and at the same time thought, "I would not want to be my child right now."

The kids were racing through the house playing and fighting and laughing and crying and I heard myself repeatedly reprimanding them for the negative activity. Much of the reprimanding was valid - it is never a good idea for kids to try to balance ceramic plates on their heads (yes, they wanted to do that).

But, I had this moment where I realized I needed to step up my game and quickly begin to balance the redirecting of the negative behavior with a healthy dose of praise for the positive behavior that the kids exhibit as well. I have to remind myself to look for the positive or I will get into the "reactive mode" of just correcting negative behavior. It is always amazing for me to see how far a little praise goes in stirring up the good behavior.

So, we have busted out our "Happy Heart Charts" and Drew and I are watching for specific behavior for both of our kids (the behaviors we needed to work on with them) and every time we catch them doing something positive in this regard, we have them put a sticker on their chart. They have both chosen a cupcake party with a few buddies as a reward, so we are talking a lot about how fun that will be.

Just this little thing has really changed the dynamic in our home. I see my kids looking for ways to be helpful, and actively trying to bless each other with kindness. I know there is some ulterior motivation in their actions, but my hope is that if they practice making better choices (regardless of the motivation) for 2 weeks, maybe it will stick. It is also a good behavior shaper for me - I need to have eyes to see the good in these kiddos more often, and a mouth that speaks that praise loudly! [Perhaps Mama needs her own "Happy Heart Chart" that gets her a spa day when she fills it up.]

What do you do in your home to create an environment of praise and positive reinforcement?

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