North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service

Parenting Pipeline


A newsletter for parents of second-grade children from the North Dakota State University Extension Service

Supporting Your Child

Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to motivate children and help them feel good about who they are. When giving positive reinforcement, let the child know why she is receiving it -- and mean what you say. It is important to be specific and sincere.

Avoid saying, "Johnny, you have done a good job." Say specifically what he did. "Johnny, you did a good job on your addition and subtraction tables." Being too general with positive reinforcement may appear phony to the child.

Reward Them Now

Parents can easily make the mistake of offering long-range rewards to children. It does not work to offer Tom, a second-grader, a new bike for his birthday in November if he'll keep his room straight in July. Children do not have the mental capacity or maturity to hold a long-range goal in mind day after day. Time moves slowly for them, so the reward seems impossible to reach and uninteresting.

How To Encourage Your Child

Send the right message. Encourage effort rather than demand results.

If you reward your child only for completed tasks well done, your child may interpret your message as, "To be worthwhile, you must meet my standards." The result may be that she will develop unrealistic standards and learn to measure worth only by how closely she approaches perfection.

If you focus only on personal gain for your child, he may believe you're saying, "You're the best -- and you must remain superior to others to be worthwhile." The result may be that your child will learn to be overcompetitive, to get ahead at the expense of others, to feel worthwhile only when he is No. 1.

If you recognize your child's efforts and improvement, the message he will get is, "You don't have to be perfect. Effort and improvement are important." The likely result is that he will learn to appreciate the efforts of himself and others and be more willing to try again.

Keep It Positive

Children need encouragement and approval. One way to be positive about guidance is to tell the child what behavior you want rather than what you do not want. Instead of saying, "Don't leave your school books on the couch," try saying, "I want you to pick up your school books and put them on the shelf." By phrasing your expectations in a positive way, you avoid challenging the child.

Another way of offering positive guidance is to let the child choose to do something rather than telling the child not to do something. Instead of saying, "You can't go out without a coat," try asking, "Do you want to wear your coat or your sweater?" This gives the child a sense of control. Of course, the child may say, "Neither," in which case you can explain why the coat or sweater is needed. You set a limit, communicate it clearly and avoid being negative.

When problems occur, ask yourself what the underlying causes for the misbehavior mightbe. (See chart.)

Goals of Misbehavior
When problems occur, ask yourself what the underlying cause of the misbehavior might be.
	      Child's 	      Parent feeling 
Child's goal  faulty belief   and reaction    Child's response   Alternatives
Attention     I belong only   FEELING: 	      Temporarily stops  Ignore misbehavior when 
	      when I am       Annoyed 	      misbehavior.  	 when possible. Give
	      being noticed   REACTION:	      Later resumes  	 attention for positive 
	      or served.      Tendency to     same behavior  	 behavior when child is
                              remind and      or disturbs in 	 not making a bid for it. 				
			      coax.           another way.	 Avoid undue service.
								 Realize that reminding,
								 punishing, rewarding,
   								 coaxing and service are
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------								 undue attention.
Power	     I belong only    FEELING:	      Active- or     	 Withdraw from conflict. 
	     when I am in     Angry,provoked  passive-        	 Help child see how to
	     control or       as if one's     aggressive       	 to use power construc-
	     am proving no    authority is    misbehavior is	 tively by appealing for  
	     one can boss     threatened.     intensified, or	 child's help and enlisting 
	     me!	      REACTION:       child submits	 cooperation. Realize that 
		 	      Tendency to     with defiant	 fighting or giving in 
			      fight or to     compliance.	 only increases child's 
			      give in.				 desire for power.
Revenge     I belong only     FEELING:	      Seeks further    	 Avoid feeling hurt. 
	    by hurting 	      Deeply hurt.    revenge by     	 Avoid punishment and  
	    others as I       REACTION:       intensifying       retaliation. Build 
	    feel hurt. 	      Tendency to     behavior or 	 trusting relationship;
	    I cannot be       retaliate and   choosing 		 convince child that 
	    loved.	      get even.	      another weapon.    she/he is loved.               	
Display of  I belong only by  FEELING: 	      Passively responds Stop all criticism. 
lnadequacy  convincing others Despair;        or fails to  	 Encourage any positive  
	    not to expect     hopelessness.   respond to what-   attempt, no matter how 
	    anything from me. "I give up."    ever is done.      small; focus on assets, 
	    I am unable;I am  REACTION:       Shows no 		 don't be hooked into 
	    helpless.	      Tendency to     improvement.	 pity, and don't give up.
			      agree with 
			      child that
		              nothing can be 
R. Dreikurs, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) Program, American 
Guidance Service.


This newsletter is published for North Dakota families with second-graders by the NDSU Extension Service and distributed through your county extension office. See your extension agent for more parenting information and other home economics programs.

NDSU Extension Service, North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Science, and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Sharon D. Anderson, Director, Fargo, North Dakota. Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. We offer our programs and facilities to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, or disability; and are an equal opportunity employer.
This publication will be made available in alternative format for people with disabilities upon request 701/231-7881.

North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service