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Newsletter - Reframe to Avoid Saying No

Dear Parents,

A couple of reminders this week and then I have a challenge for all of you. First, please remember that circle time starts promptly at 9am in the three older classrooms. It is very important that children be here BEFORE the start of circle time and are not walking in the door at 9am or after. It helps the children get their day started and helps them to feel included as part of the group.

Also, the entire school naps from 1pm to 3pm. Though I know that sometimes appointments are scheduled during this time, pick up during nap is very disruptive. Even if your child doesn’t sleep, other children do and the banging door and voices are disruptive to sleep patterns. If at all possible, please pick up before or after naptime.

This week I am offering a challenge. Beginning now, count the number of times you say “no” to your children each day, right up until you tuck them into bed. Unless I miss my guess, you will be astonished by the total

Now consider this: It is human nature to resist when someone tells us “no.” And your children are no expectation. So that pile of “no’s” often elicits exactly the opposite of the cooperative behaviors that you want, and indeed produces a bunch of “no’s” from them. (That might be another interesting thing to count!)

It becomes important to replace many of those “no’s” with strategies that can redirect behavior successfully. When we reframe situations that make us want to say no, we create a more positive atmosphere and opportunities to say “yes.”

Here are four ways you can reframe many situations where you might otherwise say no. This helps to focus on getting a positive outcome.

Consider incompatible alternatives

When you are trying to stop an undesirable behavior, it is necessary to replace it with something else. Give a child something appropriate to do that ends the inappropriate behavior. For example, the child who is rhythmically kicking the baby’s bouncy seat can be given a book to show the baby. This easily encourages cooperation with a response to the new suggestion. Instead of saying “no,” or “don’t do that,” we tell the child what to do and then follow-up with positive attention for the changed behavior.

Consider the choice strategy

Choices give a child alternatives. State the desired goal and then give the child two choices for accomplishing it, both acceptable and positive. “We need to be quiet while the baby sleeps. Would you rather play a whisper game or pretend you are a mouse?”

Choices increase cooperation and avoid the no’s. Adding “You choose or I’ll choose” softens even the most resistant children because they want to decide for themselves.

Use when/then statements

Another strategy to reframe situations to get positive outcomes is the when/then approach. “When you have finished picking up the toys, then you may choose a book for us to read.” When specific expectations are linked to positive outcomes, children are much more likely to be cooperative, once again avoiding negative confrontations.

Shift your focus

All those no’s come about because you are in fact focusing on the things that you don’t want your child to do. Instead, consider all the things that you would like them to do, identifying all the positive qualities you hope they will develop. When you see children demonstrating those qualities, make a big deal about it: “I saw you helping the baby! That was thoughtful.” “I appreciated the way you played quietly while the baby was sleeping. That was helpful.”

Now having said that, there are times that it is appropriate to say no. Children are not allowed to run into traffic, that is a huge no. However, those no’s are reserved for times when there is an absolute hard limit. It takes practice to notice children when they are behaving appropriately, but that positive focus has huge payoffs in children’s behavior. Cutting down the number of no’s has payoffs for you as well. You will discover that you feel better about your parenting when the positive is accentuated. Keep in mind that children are going to push the boundaries and challenge the rules. This is how they learn what is acceptable and what is not. However, by incorporating some simple strategies, you can help keep “nos” at a minimum and still help children understand boundaries.

Have a great week as together we teach,

Miss Catherine

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