44. Catch them being good

Do you know one of the most effective things you can do to turn around negative behaviour? …

Catch them being good!

and do you know when this is MOST effective? …

When you least want to!

It is so easy for us to give our attention to the negative behaviour we see in children, when actually, it would be better to focus on the positive behaviours – the behaviours you want to see more of.

Imagine this scenario:

Your child hurts another child or says something mean.

Who do you give your attention to?

Probably the child who has done the hurting – we rush to ‘discipline’ them and to let them know that behaviour is not acceptable.

Think about this scenario again:

Imagine giving your attention to the child that has been hurt instead.


If your child’s need was to connect with you then they will learn very quickly that this is not the way to get your attention.

Carrying on with this scenario:

Imagine the child who did the hurting then said sorry (without being told to).

Would you want to say something positive to them?

Well, you might not want to as you might still feel annoyed with them for hurting in the first place but the best way to turn that behaviour around is to give them attention for the positive action. Something like “Thank you for saying sorry”.

Reward positive behaviour

It is important not to reward negative behaviours but if you think your child is behaving in a negative way to get your attention then plan some more one to one time with them this week.

We discuss this more in the need behind the behaviour.

Focus on the positives

Focussing on the positives is better for behaviour, self-esteem and mental health. 

Don’t wait for them the misbehave – notice the positives in everything they do – even if if it’s things you expect them to do. Saying thank you for tidying your room or loading the dishwasher, gives a better chance for them doing it again. 

Start with yourself (and self talk) and tell yourself when you have done the right thing, or you’ve put in the effort and see how the positive behaviours will multiply!