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Children act out of instinct and that’s why they touch everything. They need experiences to assist in developing their psyche. Knowing children are sponges and soak up everything they see and hear, then why would anyone purposefully say: “My little Johnny is a bad boy. He gets into everything”? They wouldn’t purposefully say those words, but parents do all the time. Instead of saying Johnny is a bad boy why not say: “My little Johnny is so curious he gets into everything. He’s going to be a smart one”? Curious is more desirable trait than being dreadful because during an age when children do get into everything they are exactly that, curious.
Give your child a prominent reputation and they will likely fulfill your request, whereas condemning your child to mediocrity will only realize your words. Constantly tell your child how smart they are; how loving and thankful they are; how patient and forgiving they are; all the traits you aspire for them to develop reiterate daily. While disciplining your child rationalize what happened and why they are in a timeout through positive words. For example:
We’ll say “Sweetheart, I know you want to be a good girl, don’t you?”
“Yes daddy” – she replies sadly, but understanding.
“I asked you to play nice with your sister and you grabbed the toy from her. That wasn’t very nice, was it?”
“Alright then, you know why you are in timeout?”
“Why?” – I always ask this question.
“Because I took the toy from my sister” – you might even get a little display of what happened.
“You’re a good girl and are always very kind to your sister, so after your timeout are you going to be nice to her?”
“Good girl. I love you”
“I love you too daddy”
After the timeout ask her to go over and apologize to her sister. Even while a child displays unwanted behavior it’s important to solidify their prominent reputation.