Creative Child

8 Simple Explanations to Help Motivate Better Behavior

by Deborah Song

In a given day, kids are told more times not to do something than they can count. But how many times do we take the time to explain why. If we want our kids to be self-motivated to eat healthier, take turns or use kinder language, we need to invest the time and explain why. Just because something makes sense in the mind of a grownup, doesn’t mean it’s self-explanatory or obvious to a child. Here are 8 explanations to seemingly common sense requests.

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  1. Don’t whine. As parents, we know that the sound of a whining child drives us mad. But why exactly is whining bad? My daughter once retorted, “I’m not hurting anyone.” While doing research for this article, I found a plethora of articles that address how to stop a whining child but very few on the exact negative effects of whining. But according to a study published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, whining was named the most annoying sound ever. More participants made mistakes while doing subtraction problems listening to whining than any other sound, even the sound of a high-pitched table saw. One good reason you can give your child for why he shouldn’t whine is that it distracts mommy and daddy like no other sound can. This can lead to big mistakes, especially when driving, cooking or doing any other task that requires concentration.
  2. Share. Sharing is caring. But why exactly is it important to care this way? You can explain to your child that caring is contagious and when we care for others, it empowers others to do the same, even causing a domino effect. Remind your child that there is a shortage of love in this world. Another important reason for sharing is that it teaches your own heart to love, by instructing your heart to love people more than things. In the beginning, your actions might follow your feelings but in the end, your feelings follow your actions. So it’s important to share, even if you may not always feel like it.
  3. Don’t hit. Hitting is never a good response to anger. Not only can you really hurt someone by hitting them, but that person can really hurt you back. Hitting only escalates anger instead of deflating it and it can grow the anger much bigger than its original size. It’s a lot like covering up a mistake with a larger scribble. You didn’t get rid of the mistake. You only made it worse.
  4. Take turns. Not only is it fair to take turns but the result of not taking turns is utter chaos. What if we never had lines for things, people would just push and shove until they got their way. Taking turns promotes order in any society, even the kind that exists in sandboxes.
  5. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait. Patience is hard for anyone, but especially challenging for kids. The first thing kids need to understand about patience is that it is like a muscle. You can’t build it overnight. Patience takes practice. If you don’t practice patience as a 4 year-old, you won’t learn patient as a 7 year-old or even as 70-year-old. So encourage your child to continue to build his tolerance for waiting and to develop this muscle.
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