The Cheerleader Parent
Cheerleader Parents know that it’s more effective and a lot more fun to motivate children with praise rather than criticism. They know that if they make a point of commenting on the good things their child does, bad behaviour tends to shrivel up from lack of attention. These parents notice when their child does something right and tell her so. It’s not that they don’t care if their child misbehaves; they stay positive because they know it gets results. Even when things are going wrong, a drip-feed of kind comments can turn things around and make everyone in the family feel a lot better. Being a Cheerleader Parent works because children crave our attention. This can be hard to believe, especially on those days when they don’t seem to listen to a single thing we say. It’s even harder to believe when they yell at us to go away and barricade themselves in their bedrooms. But deep down they are desperate for our attention, and they will do whatever it takes to get it. Even being shouted at by an exasperated parent is more satisfying for a child than getting no attention at all.
I used to have the worst time getting my son to wear his seatbelt. He kept taking it off to see how far he could push me until I lost my temper. On one occasion, driving through the pouring rain, I got out of the car and smacked him hard. He howled for the rest of the journey and I felt awful. But I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want him to die if I crashed the car, but? I was so angry I couldn’t drive properly. I felt so guilty for hitting him, the next time we got in the car I vowed to be nicer. So after he put his seatbelt on and we started driving down the road, I started saying kind things to him. ‘Thank you for putting your seatbelt on,’ and, a little later, ‘I see you are still wearing your seatbelt. I really appreciate that.’ To my surprise, it was that easy. He kept his belt on. I couldn’t believe it.
Cheerleader Parents are great at turning situations like this around. They know that if they can fill up the attention-seeking hole with positive comments, their child may not try to wind them up. It’s so simple, and it really works.