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Parenting Tip

January 15, 2013


 What is Your Action Point?


Why is it that Dad can get the kids in bed faster than Mom? Or, Why do children respond differently in the classroom, on the playground, and in the home? The answer to these questions has to do with a number of factors but one piece of the puzzle is what we call an action point.

An action point reveals the cues that you mean business, that the words you’re saying are not just a suggestion but that they’re an instruction you expect your child to obey. An action point is the point in the interaction where you stop talking and start acting to reinforce your words. In some situations the action point is very long in coming. Why do babysitters get taken advantage of? Some babysitters have no action point.

We don’t want to suggest that you avoid talking and just start commanding children around with threats of impending doom. What we’re suggesting is that your children need cues besides anger that the discussion is over and it’s time to follow through. It may be a particular kind of look or tone of voice or a choice of words. One dad said, “When I give an instruction to my daughter, I get close to her and use her name. I’ll give the instruction use the word “now,” for example “Kristen, please get in the car now.” This communicates the discussion is over and it’s time to start moving.

Children are smart and they learn different action points from various parents, teachers and leaders. In some ways it might be helpful to view it as a game recognizing that kids learn how to play you. They continue what they’re doing up until the point when they know you’ll take action. Your children know your action point.

Take time to decide what you want your action point to look like. Determine what cues you’re using now to indicate it’s time to obey, and if you need to, choose different cues to communicate clearly that it’s time to start moving. Avoid anger or harshness as your cue. Clear, thoughtful cues can be a great asset in keeping relationships healthy.

This parenting tip comes from the book Home Improvement, the Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. (Formerly Eight Secrets to Highly Effective Parenting)

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