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Teaching Positively or Reinforcing negative Memories?

Updated on July 21, 2016

Sometimes grandparents are right

Why is it that a two yr. old's favorite word is "No!"?

Could it be possible that this is the one word they hear more often than any other? Children repeat what they hear, that has been proven. If they were to touch things and then hear yes, how good the baby is behaving,not only would their growing up days be different, but the whole world as we know it would be. The trouble is that it cannot be that way because we have the responsibility to teach our babies right from wrong and safe from unsafe.

So many times, as we were traveling down the freeway, and the noise from the backseat became so loud I would lose it and shout things like , "Knock it off back there". Did it change anything the next time we were in the car? No, it did nothing to help the problem.

Parents must constantly remind themselves, that a child only knows the world as it has been shown to them by their trusted adults. Kids who are consistantly hearing such things as "No, Don't, Stop it, or are corrected with spanks, isolation, or yelling, are swift to learn to not hear or pay attention to the negative attention they recieve all the time.

A different and opposite approach not only draws their attention immediatly, but stays in their memory for a very long time. Interestingly, pointing out good behavior, and telling the child how well he is acting, when for example he is sitting quietly in the back seat of the car, goes so much farther, and is remembered later on.

"Look at how good Joey is sitting." makes the other youngsters want to be noticed too. Doting on good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior stays in the memory of kids a lot longer than you might think it does.

I know that parents have no choice than to resort to some kind of correction when children do something that they know is not allowed. A celebration of good behavior is rather like a preventive medicine approach to getting kids to do the right things. It takes a wise parent to know what the right thing to do is and when to apply the praise. On the other hand, it also takes a patient parent to exercise the correct punishment when a child looks you straight in the eye and does something he knows you told him not to.

A parent slapping the hand of a two year old for touching the knob of the stove may not be over the top for sometimes it takes the shock value for them to learn before they get hurt. Still, knowing when the slap is the thing to do, and not overdoing it is the key.

Too much slapping, shouting, and just hearing no, no no, all day long gives children the idea that they are not living up to your expectations, or are bad kids. Hearing such things as, "Whats wrong with you?" or "I will give you something to cry about", leaves kids with an emotional stigma that they just are not up to par, or not as good as others. It is this sort of thing that leaves emotional scarring.

Celebrating good behaviors gives children a lifetime of wonderful memories, rather than punishing bad behavior, which gives the child a lifetime of emotional scarring to try to forget.

It is a fine line that parents must figure out for themselves what is right for them and for their kids, and for their family. Hopefully you will think hard about it before you lash out at your toddler and can think enough in advance to be able to praise the good that they have shown you.


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  • ddsurfsca profile image

    ddsurfsca 7 years ago from ventura., california

    The truth of the matter is that parenting does not come naturally at all. It is so easy to contribute to the bad behavior by yelling or responding in a bad way, therefore giving the child a lot of room to act out. You have no idea how easy it is to yell at a screaming two year old to shut up. This of course does not work.

  • DaniellaWood profile image

    DaniellaWood 7 years ago from England

    This is so true, thank you for this great hub. At the age of 17, I of course don't have any children! But I'm certainly taking on board the tips - they'll come in handy one day!

    Having said that, when I watch programmes like "SuperNanny" (where she has to rehabilitate badly behaved children and teach the parents how to cope with them), I can't understand how these things don't come naturally to some parents. Like, for example, when the children swear, kick and scream at the parents, and the parents just shout back at them, or worse, say "what a little brat!" and storm out the room! It gets them nowhere and certainly doesn't set a good example for their children! Thanks, Daniella