Parent Skills: Prompting
How can you set your child up for daily success? One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on PROMPTING instead of punishment. Here’s what you need to know about prompting your child toward good behavior and decisions:
1. Friendly Competition
One of the ways to prompt your child toward good behavior is to create a simple competition where you dare them to turn a negative behavior to a positive one. If your child is fidgety and doesn’t sit still or tends to be disruptive, for instance, create a friendly competition or prompt that steers them to better behavior.
For example, to have them sit still you may ask, “Let’s see if you can sit better than I can!” Children naturally look up to you, and they want to be good at the things that you’re good at. This prompt challenges them to focus their energy on doing the things you’re doing. This way, they end up practicing sitting still without even realizing it!
2. A Dose of Praise
If your child wins this friendly little challenge, or if you catch them doing something well at all, give them a good, heaping dose of positive praise! A few encouraging words such as, “Look at how good you are at this!” are positive reinforcements that makes them feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. The more often you catch them being good, the more often they will remember to continue doing that behavior in the future. It reinforces a cycle of positivity between you and your child.
3. Set Your Child Up for Success
The goal behind prompting is to focus your attention on your child doing the right things. How often do you actively notice them doing something good rather than catching them engaging in bad behavior?
Every time you catch your child doing something good, let them know! Along with providing praise, which boosts their confidence & self esteem, set your child up for success by recognizing and rewarding their good behaviors. In fact, the more you catch them doing good things, the more their brain tells them, “I like doing this! This behavior is associated with good feelings!” This creates and reinforces synaptic pathways in their growing brains that builds these positive behaviors into positive habits.
4. Brain Power
The more you punish your child’s behavior, the more cortisol (stress hormone) is released and goes to your child’s brain. Excessive cortisol can affect the capacity for stress regulation, as well as development and higher functions of the brain, which can lead to future physical and mental health challenges.
This begs the question – what kind of brain do you want your child to have? A brain that is excited about doing good things? Or, a stressed out brain that anticipates getting in trouble?
I know my choice! I want my child to be constantly excited about doing good things!
Helping your child improve their behaviors involves more than prompting them, setting them up for success, and catching them do good things. Sometimes prompting involves redirection.
Redirection is simply guiding their attention onto something different when they are upset, worried, or anxious. If they are upset, guide their attention to something that is cool or interesting. For example, if they’re upset about not getting a new toy at the store, start talking about making a list together for everything they want for their birthday & put that item right at the top. As you start listing other items together to put on their list, your child’s attention will be diverted away from that specific toy. This type of prompting helps divert their attention onto a positive experience, which supersedes their other difficult emotions.
I think we can all agree that children will not have perfect discipline all the time, but they want to do the right thing. They want to please you and make you proud of them. To help them with their level of discipline, it is important that we prompt them all the time. That way, we can catch them doing good things and set them up for success!