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Always Reinforce Good Behavior In Children

Jun 19, 2008
My children were angels this morning. Horray! It so makes the morning go easier when things run smoothly of a morning. Two of my kids were up and dressed before 7am and all ready for school - lunches packed, hair combed, teeth brushed, beds made. What a breath of fresh air to get up to that.

Then came the question, "Mum, since I am ready for school, can I please go on the computer?" Now, generally I have a rule and that rule is that nobody gets to go on the computer before school. Usually if I let one child go on it will distract the others and everyone ends up being late for school. But today my kids had done so much so quickly and excelled themselves so I wanted to let them know that good behvaior is always noticed and will be acknowledged in some small way every time.

I said to my two boys, "OK, what is your plan? I need to be on the computer by 8am so between the two of you there is only one hour. How are you going to plan your time wisely? I put the onus on them to sort out who would go first, how long their turns would be, as the last thing I wanted on a Monday morning was an argument before school.

The boys put their heads together and chatted and came up with their plan. They came back to me and Sam said, "Kieren's going on now until 7.30am and then I am going on until 8am". I listened to their suggestion and reminded then that I would need the computer promptly at 8am and that I didn't mean 10 past 8am.

The boys agreed that they could stick to those rules so off they went happily. They had worked really hard to get ready for school so early and deserved to be rewarded. Now here's the thing: my kids did deserve recognition for their outstanding efforts this morning in preparing for school. I decided that I was prepared to bend the rules and allow them to go on the computer. That was my choice and I made it. If parents make the rules they have the right to bend them also.

I'm not saying that it is always OK to bend the rules but sometimes it is OK. When kids see that you are kind and compassionate and not just some big authority figure they will respond to you much better. My kids have left for school now and they were off the computer before 8am for me.

So they have proven trustworthy in this one area. So, next time they come to me of a morning and ask the same question, what do you think my answer might be? I think I am very likely to say "yes" again. why? Kieren and Sam have proven that they can be trusted with the computer in the morning.

We need to remember to give our children plenty of opportunity to earn our trust and my kids earned my trust this morning. I was really proud of them and I hope they felt proud of themselves as well - there was no fighting over the computer; they played nicely and the morning went very smoothly.

I am glad I chose to give my kids a liberty today. It was a liberty well deserved. and I wouldn't mind betting my kids will come home from school and thank me for letting them on the computer this morning.

The main thing that my kids can learn from this experience is that there are good consequences from good behavior. My kids were well behaved and received an unexpected reward for their efforts. And that is how the real world operates.
About the Author
Kim Patrick is a single mum with four children who lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is author of the book, "Get Your Child To Behave In 30 Days Or Less". For more information on how to get your child to behave, you can go to http://www.mychildcanbehave.com/main.html
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