How do we help a child own up to their behavior choices and begin to make a change?
The following methods encourage a child to be in charge of their good choice making…
Tell them the expectations upfront so they know what they are working towards.
Give them a chance to rewind when they’ve made a poor choice.
Give them a chance to take a break when they’ve made a poor choice and before entering back into the social scene.
Have them look around and recognize what other good choice makers are doing.
The above mentioned skills help children learn how to start good choice making and stop bad choice making. Here is one more key skill that can help a child begin to self regulate and make the shift from negative to positive choices.
Allow your child a chance to look at their progress.
Choose one behavior you want your child to focus on and zero in on it.
For example if you want them to practice taking turns while they play on the playground,
you could remind them about this skill before you get to the playground and ask them to pay attention to how they are doing while they are playing. Then at the end of the playtime, ask them to tell you how they did. You could try to catch them being good so that you can help them remember their good choices later when they self reflect.
They could do this self assessment through:
A simple conversation between parent and child where they tell you what went well and what did not go so well
A “picture story telling” where they draw the things that went well and the things that did not go so well.
A “fill in the blank story telling” where you give them two prompts
“I took turns when I…”
“I did not take turns when I…”
“My friend took turns when she…”
“I felt ___________when my friend did not take turns.”
This could be a drawing or writing exercise that you help them with or they do on their own depending on their age.
A simple smiley face chart where they color in how they did and how they felt.
A sticker chart or some other kind of reward chart where they evaluate their progress.
Of course their perspective could be different than what really happened… This is very normal for early childhood development. They see their world differently and might need us to be specific about the good and bad choices that we saw them making. This skill takes practice for your and your child so try it more than one time before you give up.
Make self reflection a part of your daily time together and encourage your child to reflect on their own progress as they start to own up to their behavior choices.