The average parent has just three and a half minutes of real conversation with their child per week say the authors of Jump-Starting Boys [Viva Editions, 2013.] Most of the parents I work with want way more than three and a half minutes of engaged conversation with their kids. As a parent, I want more of that too. That's one of the many reasons I love teaching the Positive Discipline curriculum.
Positive Discipline has so many parenting tools that are considered "relationship tools," ways for parents to build a strong connection with a child. A strong parent-child bond definitely prevents some misbehavior issues. When a child feels that a parent truly wants to spend time with him or her and does spend time on a continuing basis, children learn they can count on a parent's attention and engagement.
Positive Discipline Tools that Foster Engaged Conversations
I'd like to highlight several Positive Discipline tools that sometimes are overlooked by parents. Some parents only look for tools to use after a child has misbehaved and forget about the wonderful tools that prevent misbehavior by staying connected to you child through talking and spending time together.
- Special Time: "Special Time" is quality time spent each day or each week (depending on the child's age.) This time is scheduled ahead of time and is usually at the same time each week or day. Read more about how to set up special time and what type of schedule is best for certain ages in How Spending Quality Time with Kids Improves Behavior.
- Have Your Child Help Cook Dinner Once a Week: Each of my biological children have helped me cook dinner once or twice a week since they turned three years old. You can add 52 more conversations a year between you and your child by having your child help you prepare dinner one night each week. Along with sparking casual conversations, cooking dinner with your child offers other great benefits such as indirectly encouraging your child to try new and different foods. Read Benefits of Having a Teen Cook Dinner One Night Per Week for more ideas and information, but remember that preschoolers love to help in the kitchen too. Kids helping cook dinner is for all age kids.
- Family Meetings: Holding family meetings once night per week means that you and your family get to talk about real life issues, plan events and vacations together and discuss solutions to problems that arise in your household.
- Limit Screen Time is one of the tools in the set of Positive Discipline Tool Cards. A great way to limit screen time is hold a family game night or a family activity night once a week. When you and your family play games together or do something such as take a family walk or hike, you'll notice that these activities seem to evolve into some great conversation time when parents just let conversations happen.
- Validate Feelings: Your children will feel more safe telling you about their feelings and disappointments when they feel heard. Validating your child's feelings is a great tool that helps your child feel listened to and connected to you. You can encourage your child to start more conversations with you by being a good listener and by validating feelings that your child expresses to you.
Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer