Remarking on the Good

“No, we do NOT swing our bags around like that.”

“Aren’t you READY yet? C’mon!”

“Why haven’t you finished that?”

“Would you just EAT your food already?”

“I told you to turn that video game OFF!”

“What do you say?”


The list of behaviors requiring guidance and correction can be huge, can it not? It can be exhausting to constantly remind our children of what sort of behavior is required and expected of them.


Frankly? Sometimes, I get tired of saying it. Lord knows, I get weary of the words “no”, “not”, and “stop.”


More to the point, I honestly believe that our indignant cries and pleas to cease frequently fall on deaf ears. Many times, children hear our angry responses to their behavior and basically decide they’re already “bad” and, well, so be it.


Catch them doing something good


So, while I’m sure it doesn’t work for every single child and every single situation, I’d like to share with you my very best tip for seeing improved behavior:


Remark on the ones doing the right thing.


What does that sound like? Well, something like this…


“I just love the way Ginny has all her things together and is ready to go. Nice job, Ginny.”

“Jonathan looks ready for soccer. He’s off to a great start.”

“You know? It makes me so happy, Sue, how you got right up and got yourself dressed and ready to go for the day. Thank you.”

“Oh! Thank you for those good manners, Jack. I appreciate that.”

“I love how you’re making good choices today, Olivia. Good job.”


I know. Some of you are rolling your eyes. I mean… seriously? These should all be expected behaviors, not things worthy of praise… right? I mean, there’s certainly nothing EXCEPTIONAL about getting ready for the day.


But bear with me.


Most children truly do want to please. Most want your approval.


Some of those little ones making poor choices? Just need reminders and concrete examples of what better choices look like. When they hear you praise another child for doing the right thing? They both know what the right thing looks like and that you truly appreciate it. Those are simple, but important, concepts.


Try it.


Catch someone doing good and see if others don’t try to get your (good) attention, too.

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1 comment to Remarking on the Good

  • You are so right, and quite frankly, this cranky mama really needed to read this, so thank you for writing it! Off to catch ‘em doing something good right now! :-)

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