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What is positive guidance?

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 9:05 AM

- Guiding children’s behavior in a way that helps them feel confident, secure, and noticed

- Letting children know you are on their team

- Fostering self-esteem and independence

- It is done by establishing predictable routines, setting clear rules, having age-appropriate limits, and modeling kindness and respect


Benefits of positive guidance

- Children feel safe to trust limits and consequences; they are not surprised by a sudden consequence

- Children can self-regulate their behavior

- Children feel more independent and competent, which allows them to continue to develop in a healthy way

- Children learn to make wise choices, not necessarily self-indulgent choices

- Children learn to respect others


Using teamwork

- Be clear about roles - clarify who will do what, and when. This allows children to anticipate what is going on, and who to ask if they need an explanation or directions.

- Adults should be on the same page - this lets children know that if they ask one adult and get an answer that they don’t like, they will get the same answer if they ask another adult. One strategy to emphasize this is to echo instructions when you overhear an adult giving them to a child - a simple “yes, that’s right!” will do the trick. If you don’t agree with the other adult, be sure to talk with them away from the child, so you can still present a united front.

- Check in frequently with children and other adults. This shows children that you are all working together, rather than doing your own part of the task on your own.


Make it fun!

- Use humor - a funny voice or a silly rhyme can help ease tension and keep children engaged.

- Use puppets/toys to act things out - when you are explaining to the puppet/toy, the child is interested, more likely to learn, and less likely to become defensive for having done the “wrong” thing

- Use music - singing instructions to the tune of a familiar song can make them fun and catchy, and allow you to repeat the instructions multiple times without nagging


Make it work!

- Keep an eye on the child’s body language to guide them in a way they respond to without the child becoming distressed. Allow the child to “save face,” do not shame them for something they may have done wrong. Guide gently.

- Be honest; do not tell “white lies” as a quick fix (for example, saying there are no crackers left when really you just think they’ve had enough to eat)

- Be consistent with verbal and nonverbal cues; don’t use a soft voice with a harsh message, and do not be sarcastic - young children don’t understand sarcasm

- Redirect when you correct; simply telling a child to stop doing something will make them feel bad and they may have an outburst or just cry. Give them something to do instead - say “walk please!” instead of “don’t run!”

- Allow natural consequences when appropriate; for example, a child who intentionally breaks a crayon will have to color with a broken crayon.

- Give 2 choices whenever possible!

- Make chores into a game - “Let’s pick up all the red blocks! Now the yellow ones!”

- Validate feelings with empathy - “I know sharing is hard sometimes, and that you really want to keep playing with that. I’m proud of you for sharing with your friend.”

- Model appropriate behavior with other adults.

- Offer praise often, not just when the task is done, so children are motivated to continue. “Wow, you put away 3 stuffed animals already! Only a few more to go!”

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