The Most Powerful Discipline Weapon Known to Man
If you are looking for the most powerful discipline weapon known to man, you have come to the right place. It will sound simple…too simple. In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to even mention this disciplinary tool. Still, it is powerful. This disciplinary weapon is powerful enough that most adults still recall how their parents used it. No, it is not the paddle or “time out.” It is not “spare the rod spoil the child.” The most powerful discipline weapon known to man is… (drum roll please)…Positive Attention! I told you it would sound simplistic; but, before you quit reading, consider these few important facts about the power of positive attention.
Children crave their parents’ attention. They will do anything to gain their parent’s attention. And, children are careful observers of their parents. They observe what it takes to gain their parent’s attention. If parents only attend to loud behavior, then children will engage in loud behavior. If parents only attend to misbehavior, then children will engage in misbehavior. If children have to pursue a preoccupied parent’s attention, then they will pursue it by any means necessary. I actually knew a child who tried several strategies to gain his mother’s attention before lighting a roll of toilet paper on fire and tossing it into his mother’s lap while she stared at the TV. He did gain her attention…but at what cost!
The point is: children crave their parents’ attention. With this knowledge, parents can prevent a lot of negative behavior simply by attending to their children’s positive behaviors. When children learn that their parents attend to helpful behaviors, they will engage in more helpful behavior. If parents attend to polite requests, polite requests will increase. When parents respond and attend to simple requests for interaction, children learn to make simple and appropriate requests for interaction. So, as the old saying goes, “Catch ’em being good.” Pay attention to “good behavior” and more good behavior will follow. Show appreciation for the behavior you desire. Offer specific praise when your children put effort into the behaviors and tasks you value. The behaviors you acknowledge, and respond to with positive attention, will increase!
To honestly pinpoint how you attend to your children, spend a week recording two aspects about your interactions with your children. For every interaction or attempted interaction, record:
1. How your children attempted to gain your attention, and
2. What was the focus of your interactions with your children–discipline or relationship building, correction or acknowledgement, frustration with them or fun with them.
At the end of the week, review the results. What did you do more: praise positive behavior and effort or punish negative behavior? Did you put more effort into acknowledging positive behaviors…or punishing negative behaviors? Were your interactions centered on positive attention and sharing encouragement…or were your interactions centered on correction and discipline? Be honest with yourself. Then, start utilizing the most powerful disciplinary weapon known to man…positive attention!