Sandwich approach….

Ever since I became a parent I am always looking for new ways to handle situations with my children.  Each person parents in a different way, even if the parenting style is the same.  With this I am always amazed to hear one of my friends talk to her children.  She is always so positive and always  compliments them when they do a good job.  Even when they aren’t do something they are suppose to, she always seems to find a positive spin on it.

There was one time when she did this, that it was so clever that it has really stuck in my head every since.  Her almost 2 year old was coloring with markers and was coloring on the paper, the table and the chair.  When we all noticed my friend very quickly said to her “I love your artistic freedom, but can we please keep it to the paper.”  She could have easily screamed “Don’t color on the furniture,” or even “Please keep the coloring to the paper.”  Instead she complimented what her 2 year was doing and then stated what she wanted.  What a great way to correct what her child was doing.

When I asked her about it, she informed me that it was called the sandwich approach.  Informing me that you sandwich what you want your child to do or what you need them to do with 2 positives.  That way you start and end with something positive.  I absolutely love this approach.  It compliments my philosophy of praise 10 times more than correcting.

I will be using this approach with my children!

Do you use this approach?  If not what do you use?


This Works for Me: Music

I read this idea in Focus on the Family Magazine and just had to share!

A mother asked how she can remove the parental advisory music from her daughters collection without taking it away.  The response  was to start a buy back program with your child.  Offer fair value and offer to buy back the music. By doing this, you are able to explain why this music isn’t the best to listen too and you still have their trust.

Positive Talking vs. Negative Talking

Sometimes children are not simply being disobedient, sometimes they are out of control because they are hungry or very tired.  My son gets “mean” when he’s really tired.  He’ll say mean things or anger easily.  Rather than yell because he’s being “bad” I’ll acknowledge that he’s tired and let him know that it’s inappropriate for him to act this way because of it.  Then make sure he gets some rest!  Hunger and irritability, I really relate to so it helps to give kids a mini snack while you’re fixing dinner if they are showing signs of acting up.

One trick I use to get down to their level is to imagine myself being yelled at for doing something like forgetting something after I tried yelling and threatening to take away privileges.  I found what really worked was when I said “you need to remember this.  It’s my job to teach you how.  How can I help you remember?  Let’s think of some things that might work.”  This way we worked together to come up with a viable solution to a nuisance problem.

We worked in the positive as well as changing the threat.  “If you don’t remember,” to “Let’s find a way that works for you.”  At 7, my son lacks the skills to do that for himself.  I believe it is my job as a parent to guide him in learning.  Back to remembering-  How many of us forget names?  How would you feel if someone yelled at you, said you were bad, called you dumb or took away your privileges when that happened?  I once said to someone I saw on a regular basis “I can never seem to remember your name”  and she replied “Angela, you are so good at remembering that my name is Sharon.”  It works and I’ve remembered ever since.

Teaching and repeating in the positive, not negative.  As in “Dont’ touch the TV”  could be “keep your hands off.”  This takes work to some of you there may not see to be a difference, but my feeling is that we need to think in the positivity and teach our children to do so.

What about teaching children to do things not because we’ll go to hell, but because it is the right thing to do?  It is more productive to be kind to each other than nasty.

I believe that children are intrinsically good.  They sometimes do bad things.  That however doesn’t make them a bad boy or girl.  In the dictionary under bad it says “no good in any manner or degree; evil wicked immoral; defective, worthless.”  Is this what we believe our children are when they spill milk or bite someone?  “Bad”describes the action not the person.

Encourage your children to be themselves and give them room to grow.  My oldest daughter is a natural performer.  Give her an audience and she’ll dance and sing.  And I encourage her with my applause and smiles.  At times it’s not appropriate so rather than say ” these people don’t want to see you.”  I’ll say this isn’t the place.”

I hear a lot of labeling.  Such as “Billy is a worrier,” “She never leaves my side,” “Susie is so shy.”  You know we know how ac-cute children’s hearing can be.  So isn’t it reasonable to assume they hear this info and process it and accept it as truth because mommy or daddy said so.  It is limiting to me at 31 to have someone say “Angela you are so….” Maybe I am some of the time but that is not me, it’s not who I am.  It describes me some of the time.  Likewise, Susie maybe shy now but that is not who she is.  “She enjoys being with mommy a lot but when she’s ready she’ll come and play”  gives her an opening for changing.  We sometimes work our whole adult like braking labels like “I’m dumb.”

Angela DiCicco written in 1989

Positive Parenting Tips

Instead of focusing on what you don’t want your child to do, focus on what you do want them to do.’

Instead of providing a model for an art projects, encourage them to create their own art.

Instead of sending children to time out, redirect them with a new activity.

Instead of memorization drills, create meaningful learning experiences.

Instead of your children competing against each other, encourage each of them to strive to beat their personal best.

Instead of focusing on the bad behavior only, make sure to praise your children when they do something right.

Instead of using the word “no”, use “stop” or “stay” depending on what you want them to do.  If you do have to say “no” follow it up with a “yes” statement.


Do you have any positive parenting tips that work for your family?  Please share!


The “Do-Get” Theory

Children learn that when the “do” something, they “get” something.  This is the “do-get” theory.  It works both ways.  When they do something well, we praise them, get excited for them.  Hang their art work on the refrigerator.  They learn that by “doing” that particular action or activity, they receive positive reinforcement. It encourages them to continue doing that activity and doing it well.

They also learn than when they “do” something that is “bad” or “wrong” in our eyes, they receive negative attention – getting yelled at, shamed or put-down.  We have all known a few teachers that operate on this principle.  That somehow shaming someone will teach them to do it right.  On the contrary, it only teaches them not to try at all lest the do it “wrong” and get shamed again.

The positive outcome of “do-get” theory, is that we can teach our children discipline.  I used this technique when my children wanted something – a new bike or toy.  If they “do” save up enough money, they will “get” the thing they want.  For example, my son wanted a dune buggy.  I said if he saved up “x” number of dollars, we would pay for the rest.  He had to “do” something to “get” the dune buggy.  And he did!

This teaches children that they must get off their butts and be actively involved in their lives and their wants.  If we always give a child what they want without the “do” part, they expect that life will always be that way.

It can be something as simple as saying, “When you put away your toys (do) we will read a story together. (get)  It teaches the simple principle of discipline – that life requires a certain amount of work – of give and take.  When they are older, they will better understand that they must work to get that big house, that big promotion or that nice car!

Angela Di Cicco

Mother of 3, grandmother of 2

Teaching Children the Art of Making Decisions

Start young.  I let my 2 year old choose her clothes. I would put out 2 outfits on her bed to choose from. 

As she got a little older, she would pick out her own outfits.   Some days I might say, “Ok. You can keep the top or the pants on.”  Then she would run back to her room and change either the top or the pants. 

Some days I let her wear mismatched socks.  Pick your battles. 

As my children got older, I would include them in decision making.  What do you want for dinner, broccoli or peas?  Giving 2 choices helps so they are not overwhelmed. 

Still later, when they were in school and had a problem, I would ask, “Is this something you can figure out or do you need my help?”  Giving them this decision empowers them and at the same time lets your child know you’re there for them.

The ability to make good decisions comes from practice.  If we always tell them what to do, what to wear, where to go, what to eat, they do not learn to think for themselves.  Teaching them to make decisions for themselves is a gift we can give our children.

Angela DiCicco