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Common Sense Tips

Adapted from Boys Town Family Spotlight


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Don't forget to PRAISE your kids!

Effective praise helps a child feel good about him/herself and it helps change the child's behavior because you are concentrating on the things that are good, instead of the things that are bad. The most effective way to praise children is Catch them being Good. Usually, it is far easier for us to catch our kids being bad because so often those are the things that trouble us, that get our attention, but have you noticed - it doesn't work.

        Components of Effective Praise

  1.  Praise the person sincerely and enthusiastically
  2.  Describe what you are happy about
  3. Give a reason it makes you happy
  4. Get a response from the person (do they understand?)
  5. Every once in a while offer a reward (time together; choosing what is for dinner)



Do you find yourself nagging? Sit down, don't eat with your hands, put your book in your backpack...... We all do it; partly because we have waited until we are in the middle of the storm to start teaching our child "life lessons".

Instead approach your child during a calm moment and ask for your child's help in figuring out how a situation can be handled more effectively. Once a plan has been agreed upon you need to make sure you stick to it. Encourage and praise what the kids are doing well - everyone knows what they need to do to make the plan work.  By eliminating the anger and the nagging in our lives, things go better. Try it!


Kids often make comparisons: other families go on nice vacations; other families have more money to spend etc........ However if given the choice between a loving, caring relationship and lots & lots of things - kids; in the final analysis, choose the relationship. They may not say it in so many words, but that is what they prize more than anything else. When we give our children everything they want (toys, clothes, cars) we neglect to give them what they need - love and discipline; someone to guide them, encourage them and be there for them.


How do we build trust between ourselves and our children? If a child is to learn trust from us, two things are necessary. We need to be consistent and we need to keep our promises. Of course, there are emergencies that arise but if we keep our word 9 out of ten times our children begin to trust. Trust allows children to feel secure, and loved. All kinds of things can happen for your children, if you build a relationship of trust with them.


Ensure communication by holding Family Meetings so that each person in the family can contribute to group decisions. Family meetings:

  • save time because you can talk to everybody at once
  • increase the likelihood of rules being followed because everyone has input into their creation
  • demonstrate good decision-making skills

Remember to make these meetings fun not punishing. This is not the time to point out what everyone is doing wrong. Have basic rules of courtesy and make sure discussions are done in a positive and caring fashion. You be amazed at how much your family can accomplish!


Kids are most susceptible to peer pressure when they are most in need of affirmation. (Mom is sick, Dad just lost his job, or mom and dad just had a huge fight. At times like these, any boy or girl desperately needs someone who can care for them or a group that they can feel they belong to.  Look for negative peer influence in your child's life  by being aware of the signs.

  1. Is there a change in their attitude toward mom and dad?
  2. Have they changed the way they dress?
  3. What are the things that they consider entertainment?
  4. Are they running with a new crowd? People you have not met?
  5. Falling behind in school?
  6. Losing interest in former, postive friends?

You can help you child avoid negative influences by maintaining a relationship with your child. Take time to talk to them about their friends and get to know the people your child spends time with. Help you child practice saying "no" or to walk away  from situations where they are being pressured to do something they don't want to. It takes a lot of effort, but it really does pay off in the end.