Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say!

As adults, whether it be parents or professionals, we often make the mistake of not following through on our words!  Sometimes we make promises we don't keep--whether we are promising reinforcement or punishment.  As a simple piece of advice, try your best to say what you mean and mean what you say when talking to your child!  This will help your child learn that you are reliable and consistent, and will most likely result in more of the behavior you want to see!

Here's an example:

You tell your child, "if you hold Mommy's hand the whole time, we can get ice cream afterwards"  

Statements like this probably sound familiar, right?  The next time you set up this type of contingency with your child, make sure to follow through!  This follow-through has two parts: (1) if your child holds your hand the whole time, make sure you get her ice cream, (2) if your child does not hold your hand the whole time, make sure you do not get her the ice cream!  In other words: if A happens, then B happens and if A does not happen, then B does not happen. 

It can be easy to give into the crying or whining that may result from your child not receiving the ice cream, but keep in mind that giving in will only hurt you in the long run!  That will most likely teach your child that (a) she does not need to follow your rules, (b) she will get the rewards anyway, and (c) crying and whining is effective.  While giving in may stop the crying and whining in the moment, it will most likely increase it in the long run (and doing this will not improve the original hand-holding behavior either!) 

The moral of the story here is to be mindful in what you say and if you're going to say it, make sure you mean it and are ready to follow through!

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