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Articles by Dr. Scott Turansky


Dr. Scott Turansky

Dr. Scott Turansky offers moms practical, real-life advice for many of parenting’s greatest challenges. read bio

Character Training Step 4: Treatment – Provide Instructions for Working on the Solution

Once you've determined the first positive character quality you want your child to develop, go back to your list of negative behaviors and identify ones that relate. Quite likely, you'll have more than one group of negative behaviors to address.

With your list of negative symptoms on one side of the paper, create a new list identifying how the positive character quality would demonstrate itself. Which specific, positive behaviors could help to define the character quality and replace the negative actions? Be as specific, clear, simple, and practical as possible. This list will become your measuring stick for improvement. Remember, young children are concrete thinkers, so it's important for you to paint the picture of what this new character quality will look like on a day-to-day basis. For example, your daughter may respond poorly when you give her instructions. She may grumble, complain, or become angry when you ask her to do a task. As you work through the character-development plan, you may determine that she needs the character quality of respectfulness or graciousness. The treatment step asks the question, "What would you like your child to do differently?" You might teach her that when you instruct her, she needs to answer, "Okay," and maintain a good attitude.

One dad said, "This step was interesting for us. Sometimes I would get stuck not knowing what a better response would be. When Ryan (age 13) was mean to Ricky (age 11), Ricky became angry, mean, and resentful. But what was a better response? It's hard to experience mistreatment without retaliating. The treatment step gave Ricky and me some great opportunities to talk. I could empathize with him, and he felt like I understood his predicament."

The dad continued. "I saw that I needed to get involved more in their conflict, and I invited Ricky to come to me when he was feeling abused by his brother. I helped him know how to respond with graciousness and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness. My involvement in the boys' conflict was the single most effective approach I used to connect with Ricky on a deeper level. He grew quite a bit through that."

Of course, it's also important to work with the offender, not just the victim. When children are young, they sometimes hit, kick, bite, or grab when they're trying to solve problems. You may tell them that they need to be kind to each other, but it's best to also give them specific things they can do to demonstrate kindness. Encourage them to talk about the problem, to "use words." When children are very young, tell them exactly which words to use, such as "I don't like it when you do that!" Then teach them that if words don't work effectively, they should get help from a responsible adult, rather than resorting to fighting.

Click here for Step 5: Motivation – Inspire Change

Excerpt from Eight Tools for Effective Parenting by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Used with permission.

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