Why is it easier to say something to our kids when we’re angry at them than when they are doing what we want them to do?

Picture a lazy Sunday afternoon and you’re reading your favourite magazine while sipping a cup of tea. Your children are in the next room playing a game together, having a wonderful time and getting along famously. What are the chances that you would get up, walk to the next room and say, “It’s so nice to see you two having such a great time together”? Probably slim. Why? Because when we parents are happy and content ourselves, we aren’t particularly motivated to move from what’s making us content.

Now imagine that your children in the the next room begin screaming and arguing. Your heart begins to beat faster, anger begins to swell inside you and thoughts like, “What is going on? Why can’t they just play nicely? I was having such a relaxing time by myself!” begin to run through your head. Now you are motivated – you are MAD! What are the chances of you getting up, stomping into the next room and yelling at the kids to, “Be quiet!”?

Unfortunately, the outcome of this “Speak only when we see negative behaviour Syndrome" is that our kids mostly hear from us when we have something negative to say rather than positive feedback. They receive the message that they are just annoying to us.

The antidote? Positive verbal and non-verbal reinforcement.

Here are 20 ways to show or tell your children that you appreciate their positive behaviours.

1. “Thanks for wiping the kitchen counter so nicely”

2. “I think you got ready for school in record time this morning!”

3. “I loved how you persevered after getting frustrated with your homework tonight.”

4. “I saw you on the soccer field. You played hard!”

5. “It was so nice dining out with you tonight.”

6. “Have I told you lately how much I appreciate how you keep your room so tidy?”

7. Give a rub on the back after your child has done something you asked.

8. Give your child a wink and a smile after they accomplish something difficult to show you are proud of them.

9. Give your child a thumb or two thumbs up after you see him/her completing a task around the house.

10. “Good job on that math test, Julie. I know you studied hard.”

11. “I’m so proud of how you _______________.”

12. “I’m so proud to call you my son/daughter.”

13. Write a special note and put it in your child’s desk at school.

14. Write a special note and put it in your child’s lunch bag.

15. Smile at your child and stroke their hair after they have made a good choice about something.

16. Buy a “just because” toy, game, or puzzle and attach a note or card expressing the reason you are giving the gift. Do they always hang up their coat which keeps your house tidy? Do they always finish their homework on time?

17. “That puppy really likes you!”

18. “Dad and I were so proud of the way you behaved tonight at our friend’s house. You were polite and tried to join in the conversation.”

19. ”Wow, how creative. I like how you used the colour purple here”

20. Leave a heart-shaped note in your child’s jacket pocket thanking him/her for a job well done on a task they always do around the house.

In order to remind themselves to use praise, some parents find it helpful to make a note and put it where they can see it often. The note might read, "notice the positive" or "catch 'em doing good." .

Catch your kids being good. It will have a profound effect on the atmosphere in your home. Whatever it takes, I assure you it will be worth it.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.