Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Comment on behavior, not on your child.

What you can do

When commenting on your grade-schooler’s behavior, be as specific as possible. Try to avoid general statements such as “You’re so good” or “Stop being bad.” Instead, focus your comments on the behavior itself rather than your child. Whenever possible, frame criticisms in a positive, constructive manner.

What you can say

“Jacob, you put a great deal of effort into that social studies assignment. I’m not surprised that you aced it.”

“But you were not using good judgment when you fed Sparky those chocolate kisses after dinner. He seems OK now, but we’ll still have to call the vet.”

Why this will help

Children with learning and attention issues often see even the smallest failure or mistake as a sign of their overall lack of abilities. They also tend to feel that their mistakes or failures are out of their control. This reinforces their negative self-image.

By focusing on your child’s behavior, you can make suggestions that will help him see his actions as something he needs to work on rather than viewing the constructive criticism as an attack on his self-worth.

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