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How do you help your children to be internally motivated to behave?

880 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Marsupialmom
I have been discussing with dh that I dont want to do punishments and rewards with ds. i explained that it just wasnt realistic anyways since in real life the bad dont always get punished, and the good dont always get rewarded. I also said that I want ds to be internally motivated to want to behave well and to want to feel good about himself for making good choices. So, he asks me how will we help ds to be internally motivated to behave appropriately? So, I thought Id bring this question here to GD.

any thoughts???
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I highly, highly recommend the book "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation" by Becky Bailey.

It is a very wholistic approach, it's not "when you want X, you do Y". It makes you take a long hard look at your own life and the way you were parented and what resulted. I just finished the sections on "Praise and Rewards" last night - suffice it to say that you are right in line with her thinking on rewards (and probably praise I would guess).

I NEVER buy books with a kitschy kind of slant and almost passed this one up (the whole "7" concept is just a little overdone) but I'm glad I read it.

I wish I could give a more specific answer but the answer to your question is very complicated and involves many elements.

I hope you like the book.
Another book recommendation here: KIDS ARE WORTH IT! Giving your child the gift of inner discipline. by Barbara Coloroso. It speaks to this subject (practically verbatim to your post!
) and has been really helpful for me personally and for our family. Read it together, discuss it chapter by chapter and then keep it on the shelf for reference. Excellent!
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I keep meaning to read Punished By Rewards, which I hear great things about. People who have read it seem to love it. Maybe if we started a good discussion here about punishment/reward I'd get my butt in gear and read it!
I was talking to a friend about the behavior of one of my children (hoping for ideas) and mentioned his attitude. She asked me a question I will never forget...

Isn't it easier to change a behavior than to change an attitude?

I was blown away. This one question gave me a totally different perspective about myself and my children. I have been contemplating that question ever since she asked it.

The right behavior is not always an indicator of a right heart attitude.

I believe that sometimes making a habit of good external behavior will lead to an internal change.

I also think that requiring *right* behavior without dealing with the heart can lead to wrong heart attitudes.

I know I didn't answer your question(s). I'm still trying to figure it all out, too.

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Thanks for all of the great book recommendations mamas!! Ds is just 19 months and the only kind of discipline we've had to deal with is basically him trying to touch things off limits at other people's houses, not being gentle with the cat, and occasionally not being gentle with us or others. We've basically just been removing him from situations and distracting him with other things to divert his attention as well as talking with him about the behavior like saying, "nice touch" and "gentle" when touching the cat and others, and "not for baby" when touching things not for him like at Grandma's
: .

BUt he's also very 'spirited' and very intense and I can see myself having some struggles in the future if I dont go about it the right way. Recently, he has been not wanting to get dressed or put on his diaper. I let him go naked as long as I can, but he must be dressed somewhat to go out, so I have been distracting him with things like (omg) a video so we can get out the door! Also, he has been wanting to stand in the tub for baths which drives my dh crazy. We have those skuff things to stop sliding but he still falls so dh has told him to sit down, and if he chooses not to sit down, dh takes him out of the bath. He doesnt yell or tell him he's being punished ( although it kind of is),but tells him very calmly that he has to sit for his baths and if he isnt going to sit, well he has to come out of the tub and walk around outside of the tub, not in it. He did this 2 nights in a row, and the 3rd night he told ds to sit, and he did, no complaints. This lil guy just has a mind of his own.

Thanks and keep the posts coming!!! I appreciate any and all advice!!
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Sounds like your guy is doing the usual... and don't beat yourself up about the video, I've resorted to it also a time or two.
Anyway, hang in there, the fun is just beginning.

As for the distraction, you may find that distracting to another (unrelated) activity will be less effective as the months roll on. You may try to redirect the behavior instead to something that he CAN do along the same lines. For instance, if he's hitting someone/thing (or the cat), you can explain that he needs to treat the people/cat gently, but he CAN hit this drum, the floor, etc. If he's throwing something, you can explain that throwing that item could damage it or someone/thing, but you CAN throw this ball, etc. I've found consistency with this approach has really helped DS feel like his needs are being met and giving him a safe alternative is a win win for all of us...

It's interesting, I remember back about that same time DS was also interested in standing in the bath. In my mind, it was a total no no at the time, just too dangerous. Funny, how time goes on, you can allow certain behaviors to come forth. The bath stopped being an issue when I told him if he wants to stand, he HAS to hold onto the side, or me. He'd usually sit back down in a few minutes because he'd get cold. Once the newness was over, he was over it too. Now, he's much older and steadier and I allow him to walk in the bathtub under my supervision...

In general, anytime I can make a behavior or action safer, I try to accomodate DS rather than stop the action altogether. Let's face it, there are plenty of times when we'll have to hold the line, so whenever I can empower, I do. Moreover, I try to ask myself, when DS is doing something that I'm unsure about, 'is it truly dangerous or unacceptable for some other reason, or is it merely annoying?' This one question has made a huge impact on how DS and I relate.

Best of luck and have fun with your spirited toddler. A mind of his own is a good thing to have...
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One thing I have done that has greatly helped is changed how I praised.

I more often than not say something like "Boy you must be proud of yourself at ----- job." "Wow!! What an accomplishment in cleaning that room. " "That must of been a lot of hard work for you, you should be proud of yourself."

I also make sure my kids hear me brag about thier good points.

I make sure the know they have my approvial and my pride. But most of all I want them to be proud of themselves. Slight changing of words have seem to help my children. They are doing what ever to make themselves proud not just mommy.
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