1: Identify the behavior. Be specific about what is wrong. So, instead of “be gentle”, say “you are being too rough with those toys when you crash them together like that.”
2. Give a warning. Let them know the behavior needs to change, and if it doesn’t, there will be a consequence. (Make sure you pick a consequence you’re willing to enforce!) If-then statements work well: “If you keep crashing your toys, then I will put them away for a while.”
3. Give a consequence. If they behave well, give a positive consequence, like praising them or playing with them. If they continue to misbehave, follow through on the negative consequence that you set.
4. Tell them why. Explain the action, but keep it brief – now’s not the time for a lot of talk. “You were rough with your toys, and I’m afraid they will break, so I need to take them away from you for the next five minutes.”
5. Go back to positive communication. After the consequence is complete, let go of what happened, and return to positive communication and positive expectations for your child. “The five minutes are up, and I can see that you are being gentle with your other toys, so I will give those toys back to you. You are welcome to play with them gently.”
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