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Try this one simple trick to radically transform your child’s behavior


Mladen Zivkovic | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 08/01/19

You'll be amazed how fast it can work, and how it can change the tone of your family life.

There I was, in Adoration, begging God for help. I was at my wit’s end with one of my children, whose wild behavior was wreaking havoc in our home.

“You’ve got to show me what to do with this child,” I prayed. “I don’t know how we can go on like this.”

Even as I prayed, I hardly dared to hope that anything would change. Years of behavior struggles had worn me down. It would take a miracle to have a calm and peaceful home, I thought.

But as I prayed, the Holy Spirit dropped an idea into my head. I had read dozens of parenting books, but never stumbled across this strategy before. I figured it was worth a shot.

Incredibly, the results were beyond my wildest dreams. My child’s behavior improved so drastically and quickly that I told my husband I felt like I was in a different family—the peaceful family of my dreams. I knew I had to share this trick with other beleaguered parents.

Are you ready for it? It’s so simple you’ll hardly believe it.

Here’s the whole strategy: Tape a piece of paper to the wall. Tell your child you are going to write down every good thing he or she does all day. Then, every time you notice him doing something kind or helpful, write it down while telling your child what you wrote. Finally, at the end of the day, read the list out loud to the family at dinnertime. That’s it. Really.

Why does it work so well? Simply, because of a psychological concept called positive reinforcement. When you give your attention to a behavior, whether good or bad, the child will keep doing it—because mom’s and dad’s attention is the most valuable currency in their world. With this “kind acts chart” or “good deeds board,” all the attention goes to the good actions. Even if your child does 10 naughty things for every good deed, the attention goes to the positive act, and that incentivizes the child to keep doing good.

Most of all, though, the good deeds board reinforces to your child that he or she is a good person who does good things. If you’ve struggled with discipline for years, it’s possible that your child has begun to believe that she’s not capable of doing what’s right anymore; she even may believe she is not a good person. This public proclamation of good deeds is a powerful reminder to the child that she has what it takes to choose what’s right, and in fact, already has begun to do so.

After a few weeks of the “good deeds board,” and a new record in our home for excellent behavior, I asked my child why it’s been so much easier for him to behave. “Is it because you’ve gotten older?” I asked. “No,” he replied candidly, “it’s because of that.” He pointed to the list on the wall.

As we strive to raise these children God has entrusted to us, we have to hold at the front of our minds the truth that these little ones are our equals in dignity, whom Christ has called to be our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom. It’s our privilege and responsibility to teach them about their birthright as children of the living God and about their calling to serve Him. When we cry out to God for our children, He always hears us, and supplies the grace that we and our children need to weather the storms of daily life.

This trick of writing good deeds on the wall has been a powerful help to my children and me in our vocations, and I hope it will help you and your children too. Now I’d love to know, what little tips and tricks help you to live out your vocation in your family?


Read more:
What to say to your children about the sexual content their friends may share at school


Read more:
11 Things to do with your children before they grow up

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