I went to a meeting at Inara's preschool tonight thinking that it would just be a review of what the kids have been doing, but it turned out to be more of a parenting class. I was really pleased because the speaker brought up some points that I've been reading about, but still had a bit of a hard time picturing.
She primarily talked about the importance of positive reinforcement and that the more you acknowledge the good things your child does, the less you have to use negative words, such as "no". It's so easy to always recognize bad behavior and take the good behavior for granted, but it can prevent many "less desirable" acts to let the kid know when they do something well.
What I was really interested in, was when she discussed the difference between giving actual praise, such as "what a pretty picture" vs. offering positive reinforcement by saying something like: "I see that you've used lots of different colors in this picture and look at that long line over in the corner!" The former is ok in small doses, but makes the child feel as if he or she is always judged based on the quality of their work, while the second gives them a deeper sense that their parents are interested in what they are doing regardless of whether it's pretty or not and can simply enjoy the activity. It's a great way to build self confidence.
It's also important to take time to sit down and pay 100 percent attention to your child for at least a little while everyday. If you want to read the newspaper, explain that to the kid, finish and then sit down with them. Doing both (as you notice pretty quickly) just isn't worth it for either one of you.
Finally, she touched on how it's better to express your feelings in terms of "I" when setting boundaries. An example would be: "I feel scared that you're going to fall down that tree if you climb up it, so I don't want you to do it."
I think that we use all of this when we're parenting, but that I would like to get much better at. Especially when it comes to giving positive reinforcement without praise. Lately, I've had an issue with Inara hitting me when she's tired and doesn't know what else to do. She's also been putting up a huge fight when getting dressed, so those are things to work on while keeping all this in mind.
I would love to read what your thoughts are on this.