Keep It Straight and Simple
  By Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

When it comes to handling children's problems, the Living 201 class recommends that parents keep their message to the child as simple, straight and specific as it can be.  For this purpose, the KISS principle is elaborated as, "Keep It Simple and Straight" and never call them, "Stupid."  There are techniques which are more effective than spanking.  

Here are the rules of the KISS principle:  

When you identify a problem, also identify what you want your child to do more of.  

Don't make general statements such as, "Be good.  Behave yourself."  Tell them exactly what you want them to do in a given situation.  

Praise when your child when he or she does good or at least tries to.  Be positive.  Put downs, shaming or attempts to induce guilt hinder the progress you want to see in your child.  Such techniques are not for parents who are striving for excellence. 

Don't give double messages.  For example, saying the words, "Don't do it," while wearing a smile that says, "I like what you did just now," encourages the child to repeat that behavior.

Don't make promises or threats you can't keep.  They always remember those.    

Listen to a child's feelings first, and then instruct him or her what to do.  Example: instead of saying, "You shouldn't be thinking this way," or, "It's dumb to be scared of dark," listen to him or her out without interrupting.  Validate your child's feelings first and then suggest what to do.  

Tell your child in the most direct manner as to what you want him or her to do.  Example: instead of asking your child, "How about picking up your clothes or "Do you want to pick up your clothes now?" simply tell your child, "Pick your clothes up, now."In the last article, I suggested that parents should present choices to their children.  The choices too should be presented in a direct manner.  Example: When would you like to pick up your clothes, now or after the dinner?


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