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Ciara family parenting

Encourage Positive Behavior Through Special Playtime with Your Kids


If you have been following this blog for a while you may already know that I have a very challenging four year old daughter. Ciara is smart and sweet but she can also be defiant, destructive and a little bully. I’ve tried different parenting and disciplinary methods with her but most of them do not work.

Currently I am getting help from a behavioral specialist from UC Davis. Once a week a lady from their CAARE Center comes out to our home and teaches me parenting strategies to help deal with these problem behaviors. Recently I started a new program with my daughter called, PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy).

During these therapy sessions I have to play with my child while practicing what they call PRIDE skills (Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, and Enthusiasm). Every day I have to play with her using what we call, “Special Playtime Toys” while using these skills.

Praising your child will cause good behavior to increase, let your child know what you like, increases your child’s self-esteem, adds to warmth of the relationship, and makes both the parent and child feel good. Examples of praise include, “That’s terrific counting!” “I like the way you’re playing so quietly, and You have wonderful ideas for this picture.” Some parents are good at praising their children but they don’t know how to use a labeled praise. You can praise your child by simply saying, “Good job!” But if your child doesn’t know what the good job was for he may not continue the good behavior. A better approach would be saying, “Good job picking up all the toys!”

Reflecting your child’s behavior allows the child to direct the conversation, shows him that you’re really listening, demonstrates acceptance and understanding of your child, and improves her speech while increasing verbal communication. A good example of reflecting statements are:

Child: I made a star
Parent: Yes, you made a star

Child: The camel got bumps on top.
Parent: It has two humps on it’s back.

I am having a difficult time developing this skill. When I play with Ciara I sometimes forget to reflect on what she is saying.

Imitating your child lets your child lead, approves your child’s choice of play, shows her that you are involved, teaches her how to play with others, and tends to increase your child’s imitation of what you do. Below are a couple of examples of imitation.

Child: I’m putting baby to bed.
Parent: I’ll put sister to bed, too.

Child: I’m making a sun in the sky.
Parent: I’m going to put a sun in my picture, too.

This is another skill that I need a little more practice on.

Describing your child’s appropriate behavior allows him to lead, shows him that you’re interested, teaches concepts, models speech, holds his attention, and organizes his thoughts about play. For example you can use descriptive sentences like these while playing with your child, “That’s a red block. You’re making a tower. You drew a smiling face. The cowboy looks happy.” I was also told to pretend you are a reporter and you are reporting the news of what your child is doing. This skill came pretty natural to me once I thought of it in that manner.

Using enthusiasm while playing with your child demonstrates interest in the child, models appropriate positive emotions, supports positive statements and strengthens a positive relationship. This is another skill that I found I need more practice on.
68 Piece Foam Wood Grain Building Blocks

I also learned that some toys may not be appropriate for PCIT play time with my child. You should use toys that encourage your child to use his hands and imagination. Building toys, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Dollhouses with miniature people, train sets and play food are great toys to use in PCIT. I went out and visited our local Good Will store to find some of these toys. Then I washed them with a little bit of bleach and warm water and put them in shoebox sized plastic totes. These are her “special toys” which are only used for “special playtime.” I set them aside out of Ciara’s sight and reach.
Caring Corners Mrs. Goodbee Interactive Dollhouse

I have been practicing PCIT with Ciara for less than a week and I am already noticing an improvement in her behavior. Do you play with your children? What have you done to encourage your children to behave positively?

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Cascia Talbert

Cascia Talbert is a devout Catholic, mother of five children, health and fitness enthusiast and positive parenting supporter. She is also the founder of the award winning online health, fitness, parenting and Christian faith magazine for moms, the Healthy Moms Magazine. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, five children and one spoiled cat. Her hobbies include gardening, country music, running, and playing her flute. Check out her first book, "Taking Care of your Family's Health and Well-being, Saints to Turn to and the Catholic Faith," available anywhere books are sold.

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11 Comments

  1. nothingprofound April 27, 2010

    It's wonderful the effort you're making to enrich your relationship with your child. It's nice to know all that knowledge and resources are available, and that they actually seem to work! Good luck!

  2. Kristie April 27, 2010

    This reminds me of some advice I had seen on Super Nanny a while ago. (I feel funny that I take advice from a TV show-LOL!) I know each child is different, but her advice about kids acting out being a result of needing more of their parents' attention has helped me with my daughter. I've noticed the days that we butt heads the most are the days that I haven't been spending enough time with her. I then try to make an effort to focus on her and it's surprising how much it works!

  3. Cascia April 27, 2010

    Kristy, Ciara is so similar to your daughter. She acts up if she isn't getting enough attention from me.

  4. Audrey April 27, 2010

    Great positive tips, thank you! Author Debbie Pokornik also talks about positive parenting and mutual respect in a new book called, “Break Free of Parenting Pressures.” There's some great personal insights in addition to a workbook for parents. You should check it out!

  5. Muthering Heights April 28, 2010

    This is such a sweet approach!

  6. Dorothy April 28, 2010

    This is such a tremendous article that more mothers should read. I have always believed in positive reinforcement with our children and giving them play time and special attention which is so important to them.

    Thank you for sharing with us today.

    Dorothy from grammology
    grammology.com

  7. blueviolet April 28, 2010

    I really do think that putting the focus on positive behavior works. Great article!

  8. Great post! I think it's awesome that you're putting in the work along with her. As a parent-child team, you're bound to see success. Way to go mama!
    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my “OH NO HE DIDN'T!” Tuesday post. I hope you'll come by and link your WW post up tomorrow. See you then…

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

  9. This is the kind of parenting I've always done with Logan and it's worked great so hopefully it will for you, too!

    Thanks for the nice comment on Logan's 2 yr old pics a couple of weeks ago!

  10. Amy June 4, 2010

    Oh parenting is a hard rode to go down but you are doing a great job. I like reading your tips…

  11. Ashley M. June 3, 2011

    It's great to hear that others are having success with this type of play therapy! I began doing special playtime with my 3 year old son a year ago when he was two. We noticed right away the different it was making in his behavior as well as other skills. We've hit a bit of a road bump over the past two months, as he's been diagnosed with depression, but we're getting back into the swing of things and putting lots of focus again on this therapy.

    I noticed problems with my son when he was 10 months old. Of course at that age no therapist would see him; but I knew there was a problem. As he grew older, his behavior became out of control. He would through the most awful tantrums, knocking over chairs, beating his head, smacking, biting pinching me, throwing anything in his way… it was just awful!!! He always has to be the center of attention and just waits for others reactions. He's intelligent, charismatic, funny, loveable, but boy oh boy can he be a little devil! Since going to therapy, I have learned other ways to speak to him other than saying no, stop, don't, etc. and it typically works to reword commands I give him. Not only has PCIT been beneficial to my son, but it's also been very beneficial to family and me. Good luck with your daughter!