1. Apply verbal explanations to bad/wrong behaviors aka "connecting the dots." Using as few words as possible, explain why the child is behaving that way and how the child feels (your guess is pretty accurate and better than the child's). You can ask the child to repeat your words to see if you got it right.
- "You hit that child. You are scared of him."
- "You are changing the subject. You are afraid of talking about this."
- "You are out of your chair. You forgot to look around to see that others are not."
- "You are bossing/ parenting. You want to control what's happening."
- "You hugged that stranger. Hugging her is less scary for you than hugging me."
2. Coach or cue positive behaviors that you would like the child to perform.
Say to the child, "This is when you...
- work hard because you want me to be proud of you."
- bring me a book because you love me to read to you."
- go tell that child you are sorry because you hurt him and you feel bad."
- greet me at the door because you are hurt and need me to help you feel better."
- move close to me because a stranger has just come in the room and that makes you nervous."
3. Coach or cue positive/truthful verbal interactions. If you ask the child the following statements she will likely deny the feelings and be defensive, but when they say the words it triggers a different part of the brain and they are less likely to feel defensive. When not in defense mode they can actually assess the words and the lesson behind the words might be internalized.
"This is when you say to me... (finish with the word "go" or "repeat.")
- I feel embarrassed when I do something wrong. Go."
- I am really worried about something."
- I feel really angry when you tell me what to do."
- I don't want to do my school work. School makes me feel dumb."
- I like when we do arts and crafts. Thank you."
- Thank you for helping me." "I needed it."
- I don't want to do my chores. I want to play."
If your child does not respond to the cues the...
- parent does not respond
- parent says to the child, "You can try again later."
- Parent is minimally responsive to the child until the child takes action either with words or behavior.
Never ask your child why. That makes them defensive.
- Lowers the caregiver's expectations of love and reciprocity and prevents the child from pretending a parent-child relationship which he knows nothing of.
- Allows caregivers to focus less on diminishing or changing highly resistant negative "stop" behaviors and focus more on teaching positive "start" behaviors (much more pleasant!)
- Allows caregiver to distance themselves from their emotional reactions to the child's behavior.