Behavior and our focus. Positive or negative? Which behavior receives most of your attention? If it's negative and you're seeing an increase in behavior struggles, it's time to focus on the positive. Yes, easier said than done and I completely understand the challenges that many are up against. Parenting is all about growth, change and adapting. Over the next week or two I want to share the steps I took to shift the way I looked at behavior and how I moved to a positive approach in the classroom and how this shaped my journey with my daughter. It is normal to focus on how to keep children safe and to redirect when children are doing something "wrong," but to recognize and affirm the positive that is constantly happening takes conditioning. It's a shift in our minds and sometimes an uphill battle until it all balances out. Children seek our attention, it's human and believe it or not, they will seek attention even if it's a NO, STOP or any other negative response. If that is how they receive attention they will seek it. I remember my first year teaching and the amazing little one that changed my teaching career. He came from a broken home and was full of heartache. He received nothing but negative attention and didn't know how to receive and respond to positive words. It took 6 weeks to train myself and retrain his way of searching for the attention he needed. He would bite, throw stuff, say mean things, draw on stuff and on and on. So how do you ignore the negative? It's tricky, because you can't ignore it all. One of the first things I did was take note of how many negatives I was focusing on and how many times I was offering positive feedback. It was an eye opener. I took all his attention seeking behaviors (the ones I was responding to) wrote them down and then looked for things that I could offer positive words for. I knew I couldn't ignore when he hurt himself or others, but I could fill him up with positives before he came to a point of acting out. I could ignore the drawing on things he shouldn't and offer him an outlet, a place to draw and make a huge deal of it when he used the appropriate space. I went overboard with my positive words and created an unexpected ripple effect in the classroom. Before I knew it, everyone was seeking attention for the good at an all time high. This was a lightbulb moment. All of a sudden I became overwhelmed with the positive I was having to keep track of. A huge win, but it wasn't quick and it wasn't easy. I failed and fell back into habits, but was quickly reminded of how I played the biggest role in the whole behavior battle. My reaction and response was key and it was up to me. Are you in the trenches with behavior? Does it feel like you're constantly redirecting or responding to the same things? If so try the following. 1. Make a list of the negatives and positives you're focusing on. 2. Make a list of your triggers and the words or actions you're using when responding to the behavior 3. Find the positives and make a list of what you'll focus on and how you'll respond 4. Remind yourself that it will take time to "retrain" yourself and your child. 5. Breathe, fail, repeat and succeed.