Catch Them Doing It Right

How many times a day do you, as a parent, have to correct your child’s misbehavior with statements such as “stop that,” “clean up your room,” or “how many times am I going to have to ask you to put the video game away?”  I am guessing that it feels like an infinite number.

As parents, we have many jobs: working, cleaning the house, making dinner, walking the dogs, etc and when you add our most important job to the mix – raising our child(ren), it can become overwhelming.  Unfortunately, at times we may forget about our child until he or she does something to catch our attention – which often happens when they have done something wrong.

It is extremely important to avoid or break the cycle of ONLY paying attention to your child when he or she misbehaves.  It is critical to catch your children doing the right thing. “Praising your child is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Praise is nourishment. It helps your child grow emotionally, just as food helps your child grow physically” (Burke, 1997, pg. 51).  The reason behind giving praise is to build up self-worth, to give a belief of personal satisfaction, with the addition of feeling secure within ones self (Hurlock, 1978, pg. 311).  A sense of confidence is enhanced when a child knows that a parent has paid attention and has encouraged him or her with a positive response.  Praise makes you radiate “well-being” (Cutts, 1952, pg. 245).  Catching your child doing things right will lead to better self-esteem which leads to a stronger, positive sense of self. This in turn helps children to better navigate the stresses of adolescence without giving in to the pressures.

For the next week try to catch your child doing the right thing.  If your teen tends to disrupt you a lot when you are busy, try to find a moment when he or she has not and thank them for not disturbing you.  If your child voluntarily does something like taking out the trash be sure to thank him or her for doing that, letting them know what it meant to you. If your child does what you ask without you having to ask 10 times, like turning off the X-Box at dinner time be sure to notice that and let them know you appreciate it.

In following this advice, it is important that you don’t look only for your child being extra good, just catch them doing right things.  Also, do not go overboard trying to catch everything.

About Steven Petrus

Dr. Steven Petrus is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psycho-educational assessment, child, adolescent and family therapy.
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