We all know raising children can be frustrating. But have you heard of these parenting hacks that can make this full-time job a whole lot easier? What motivates good behaviours? Turn tantrums and tears into triumphs with try these practical and useful “4G” tips gleaned from our Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P).
Tip #1 Give clear and calm instructions
The way parents give instructions influences children’s responses. Madam Ann Wong, mother of a 7-year-old boy, noticed significant improvement in her son’s positive responses after she gave instructions in a clear and calm manner. She shared, “Speaking to my child at close proximity in a clear and firm manner helped my child to understand and listen to my instruction better. It makes me less frustrated when my child listens to me and I feel more confident as a parent. It also reduces my stress.” When you want to tell your child what to do, get close to them, say their name and instruct them in a firm but pleasant voice.
Tip #2 Give your child attention and encourage open communication
Children need a supportive and nurturing environment in which to learn and improve their skills. Encouragement and positive attention help motivate learning. Ask your children about their day and listen to their stories regularly. It is through conversations that children learn to express themselves and develop their ideas.
Madam Huang was glad that her 7-year-old boy threw fewer tantrums after she started to pay more attention, chatting with him, and listening to him more often. Keeping communication open and honest helped them build a closer relationship. She reflected, “I saw a few changes – mainly my child threw tantrums less frequently, listened more and even initiated conversations with me. I observe that I am now making more effort to pay attention and listen to what he says. Specifically, I recognise his good work more often and I am more aware of his emotions.”
Tip #3 Get your child involved in family decision-making through family meetings
Many families find it hard to find time to get everyone together to discuss matters of importance or simply to enjoy talking to each other. After attending Triple P, Madam Suhaily started to hold family meetings that involved her 4 children, aged 6 to 17, in making decisions on family matters. She shared, “We never had a family meeting before. In the past, it was just one person giving the rest a heads up and telling them briefly what they had to do in advance. But now we have a family meeting every month, asking the children, how are things going with them? Which gives them opportunities to share their plans. If there is a celebration, the children can voice their preferences – what kind of cake they want, for instance. Our communication is getting better!”
Families experience benefits from sitting down to plan together. Members of the family may be more willing to participate, and family relationships are strengthened through active participation. Children also feel more confident when they have the opportunity to express their opinions and contribute to the decision-making process.
Tip #4 Give a reward to affirm your child’s efforts
Children develop self-confidence when they set goals for themselves and then see that they can achieve what they set out to do. Parents can encourage their child to set goals and motivate them to achieve them through strategies like using a behaviour chart. Madam Suhaily found this strategy very useful especially for Emily, her 9-year-old daughter. Suhaily designed a behaviour chart that was decorated with Emily’s favourite unicorn cartoon characters. She also made a special “well done” stamp and prepared many pretty stickers for her. She discussed setting goals with Emily, especially for the subjects like Maths which she found more challenging, and other work such as household chores.
Madam Suhaily explained to Emily clearly what she needs to do to earn the stamps and stickers. They also reached a mutual agreement on the number of stamps or stickers needed to earn practical rewards. They also had a talk about what consequences were appropriate for Emily not managing to achieve the goal. She divided the rewards to small ones such as treating her to her favourite pizza and big rewards like getting her a book or a toy. She tried to make it easy for her to get certain rewards in the beginning, like low-hanging fruit. Suhaily shared that Emily enjoyed collecting the stamps and pasted the stickers on the chart happily. She praised her each time she earned a sticker or stamp. After implementing the system for a few weeks, she noticed that Emily became more confident and cooperative in completing her homework and helping with the household chores. Emily’s self-esteem has been visibly boosted as she achieves her goals, and her mother is also happy to share her improvement in a recent Maths test.
Behaviour charts are an effective strategy to encourage children to change a behaviour, practise a new skill or complete a task. They help children feel rewarded for positive behaviour and effort and make them feel good about themselves. Over time, parents can phase the chart out, make rewards less predictable, or have them still be achievable but at less regular intervals. However, these shifts in strategy should not stop parents from continuing to recognise effort and praise their child for good behaviour, as such fundamentals nurture their confidence, develop their sense of self, and model positive self-talk.
If you wish to learn about Triple P strategies or speak to a parenting coach, please feel free to connect with us via https://go.fycs.org/PSS or [email protected]. Fei Yue parenting support is offered to parents free of charge.
Sanders, M. R., Dadds, C. M., & Turner, K. M. (2013). Positive Parenting: Triple P Positive Parenting Solutions. The University of Queensland.