Jesus "noticed" correct behavior
How did Christ nurture his guys that hung around with him. One story that comes to mind is when they were together in the temple and they saw people giving. In this teaching example, Jesus praised the widow who had given her last pennies to God. (Encouragement).
Based on Christ’s example and teachings, our corrections should be surrounded by encouragements. These can come in the form of praise but they can also be visible acts. How can we catch our children doing the right thing and encourage them in a tangible way? By the way, when we start doing this intentionally we will be amazed how often we generally overlook the great things they are doing but are prone to emphasis the negative things instead!
Charts and Reinforcements
Reinforcing the positive behavior during the 2 and ½ age of disequilibrium.
Somewhere between two and three years of age, our children will go through about six months of breaking out of the toddler stage and another six months of disequilibrium as they move into preschool age. In this period they don’t really know what they want but are fairly sure it is not what we are asking them to do, so helping the two and half year old to move through this stage safely and happily can be difficult.
It will not be easy to determine what is outright disobedience and defiance and what is just being a child of this age and stage. We can make anything a matter of obedience by asking them to do it, but this is where knowing our child is crucial. Since we know that their first impulse is to yell “no” or cry and scream, during this period it will be helpful to have another optional too. Ask the questions, “How can I encourage her to obey?” and “How do I not exasperate her or provoke her to anger in the process?” (Ephesians 6:4)
To bring this little gift from God “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord," is what God is calling us to. How did the Lord instruct His children while He was on earth? What has He given us, to do this task?
The first thing is to acknowledge that we don’t know how to help this child. We need God’s wisdom to navigate through this time of upheaval. James 1:5 tells us that if (since) we lack wisdom we can ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to us. Even as we talk about practical ways to approach our little one, we still need to keep running to God for His wisdom about what we try. He will give it! And He gives it without reproach, so He doesn’t say, “Why can’t you figure this out?” Aren't we glad that He never gets tired of us asking for wisdom?
As we observe our child having a difficult transition time, we will still do lots of correcting, but there are ways that can we can reinforce right choices to nurture and teach her in the journey. When she is smiling at her sister for a moment, when she does obey, when she has a good attitude, when she just sits nicely - all of those things can be noticed with a sticker on a chart or moving a cotton ball from one jar to another (pick one), along with saying "I am so thankful for your sweet attitude and I am moving this cotton ball" or "What a great job you did listening to mommy and I am going to give you a sticker." or "I like the way you are sitting so nicely." It may feel like overkill but awarding with vigor will help her buy into the system.
What do charts, pennies, and cotton balls have in common? These are all tools we can use to help us observe good behavior and encourage good habits. (Expect it to take three weeks before we see results, because it does take all of us three weeks to form a new habit.)
Using cotton balls (from Erin):
Recently, I've been using 2 jars and a bunch of cotton balls for reinforcing good attitudes and obedience. Basically, at the start of each day, I put the cotton balls into one jar (I do it the night before), and EVERY time I catch her doing something good, I'll transfer a cotton ball into the "smiley" jar and make a big deal about whatever it was. This is not a bribe jar --"if you do ... I’ll put in a cotton ball" but rather a visual reward jar. Its so much more work to reward the good than discipline the bad, because when things are good, you don't always notice... but even when its obedience after dealing with disobedience, or when she is struggling with her attitude and I catch a glimpse of a change, I'll jump up from whatever I'm doing and say something like "I can see you're having a hard time obeying but you did it anyway! Yay!" or "Thank you for making the right choice!" etc. Basically, constantly on the lookout for ANY positive behavior.
The cotton balls can represent whatever you want them to. For Ellie, we just moved into a new house and there is a playground directly across the street, so when we first started, I put in 45 cotton balls, and I told her that each one was for 1 minute on the playground after lunch before naps. And then I would spend the morning finding every way I could to get as many of those cotton balls into the smiley jar by lunchtime. And bigger things got more cotton balls, or if she seemed to need some more encouragement (having a hard time with something) -- "Thank you for obeying Mommy the first time! Let me put 5 cotton balls in the jar!!!" or "Great job using your words when you were frustrated instead of throwing a fit!!!! Yay! I'm going to put in TEN cotton balls!" etc. It’s totally at your discretion. The point is, especially at the beginning, make every effort to move all the cotton balls by the targeted reward time. And bring them with you wherever you go. stick some in your pocket when you have to leave the house, and while you're out, transfer them from one pocket to the other, then when you get home again, make a big deal of putting all the transferred ones into the smiley jar. The most important aspect is that you follow through with the reward – Verna, my mom, challenged me to figure out how much was the most time I felt like I could give for the playground and that's how many cotton balls we went with. We've been doing it for over a month now, and the most interesting thing is that now, the cotton balls themselves have become the reward... Her eyes light up when I move them, and she hasn't asked me in weeks whether we are going to the playground or anything, so now transferring those 45 cotton balls seem to be the goal... at the end of the night, we look at our jars and talk about how we did that day with our good attitudes and obedience, based on how many cotton balls made it into the smiley jar. (I've also built playground time into our daily routine, so I think that's why it became less of a big deal...)
You could use pennies or tokens instead of cotton balls.