Help your child own the plan –
- Involve your child as much as possible in designing the plan. This gives her thinking brain a chance to grow and to feel powerful over her life. Listen to her ideas and use them as much as possible.
Develop a plan that works for your child, not you –
- What works for you may not work for your child. Because of this, I encourage you to discard your beliefs of what you think should be done. Giving your advice will be a major communication block to your child’s ability to think of their own ideas and take ownership of the plan. If you push an idea and it fails, it will be your fault.
Take time to brainstorm ideas –
- Often parents tell kids what to do because it seems quicker and they don’t have the patience to listen. As you listen you are allowing your child time to think about how they think and feel. As a result, this self-reflecting opportunity will lead your child to have greater insight, to self-regulate, and to build respectful relationships in life.
Expect to tweak your strategies –
- Plans may change because the first version doesn’t work out as hoped. When you are brainstorming, tell your child that this is an initial plan so they don’t have to think of the “right” plan. Trying to be “right” gets kids stuck because they don’t know what works for them. They would have done it already if they knew. So, instead of giving ideas that might not be right, they will just say, “I don’t know” and not say anything. Therefore, stress that you are brainstorming together with possible ideas and together you’ll pick a few to try. This will take off the pressure of being perfect.
Express positive feedback and teach self-praise –
- The goal is for children to feel good about themselves which will motivate them to continue positive behavior. To create this inner good feeling, rather than saying, “I’m proud of you”, consider comments that reflect their feelings for example, “I bet you feel good because you completed your assignment even though you didn’t want to. That takes courage and perseverance to do that. These are wonderful qualities to have.”
Whenever possible, practice, role-play or rehearse the procedure before putting it into place –
- This will be especially important if the target executive skill is response inhibition or emotional control. When the child is calm, encourage him to remember and practice what he will do when he gets upset. This will develop memory in his body that he can access during emotional times.
Use visual reminders whenever possible –
- A visual remember, such as a chart or list, will be the reminder rather than you. Instead of telling the child what to do, which puts the responsibility back on you, you can point to the chart or say, “Check your list.”
Start small –
- Begin with a minor annoyance that builds success. Add on more challenges gradually. For example, if your long-term goal is for your child to do their homework individually, first start with leaving them alone for 5 minutes and then lengthen the time. Remember to keep your expectations at your child’s level, not an adult’s. You have an opportunity to develop patience and compassion as you teach your children.
Thank you for the main points from Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson, EdD, and Richard Guare, PhD http://www.smartbutscatteredkids.com/
2016 Expanded comments by Cynthia Klein · Certified Parenting Educator ·
Cynthia has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, , or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!