Attitude Shift: Harnessing the power of attention
Reason: What you focus on you get more of
Discipline: Assertiveness Power: Attention
5. Visual Schedule
What you focus on you get more of.
By being assertive we teach our children to be assertive and that words have more power than hitting.
1. Focusing on what I want instead of what I don’t want
2. Shifting from a passive or aggressive tone to a voice of no doubt.
The Power of Attention is like a flashlight that shines on what we value as important.
When we focus on the error vs the answer we are shining the light on what we don’t
want. When we shine the light on what we want to see or have happen we are
teaching to focus on solutions.
Pivot – What I Want
“I am going to eat more fruits and veggies” --- The focus is now on fruits and veggies. The mind starts to
think about what kinds we want to eat or how many we have had today. It’s such a simple switch, right!? It’s
about retraining ourselves to think in that way.
A young child’s brain does not always compute the “not” part of “do not”. When this happens when we
say– don’t run, don’t touch, don’t yell – they hear run, hit, yell and we get more yelling, running and hitting.
We focus on our children’s behaviors a lot so what we focus on we are showing that we value those
behaviors and will give attention to those behaviors. Let’s make the switch to the behaviors we can’t to see.
Focus on the behavior we want to see
Don’t run – focus “run” ---------“Walk”
Don’t touch the cat – focus “touch” ----------- “Put your hands in your lap while she eats”
“Stop” is needed on occasion yet follow up with stating the behavior we want to see
“Stop! Wait for me before you go down the stairs”
Intention of helping children be successful
If our intent is to punish the child it doesn’t matter if we are using the right word because our body language
is saying otherwise – wide eyes, waving a finger, tight mouth.
So, we breathe, calm and focus every cell in our bodies on helping the children be successful
at the new skill – even if we feel they should know it already.
A tone of no doubt
This is the “matter of fact” voice as if saying “the sky is above me”.
An assertive voice is always clear, matter-of-fact and calm – like “this is the way it is and that’s a fact”
Be descriptive & paint a picture with words
Use words, gesture and anything else that will help the child gain a clear understanding of the desired
behavior – model how to “like this’ if needed.
Name, Action, Paint
Name: Make eye contact and say the child’s name – breathing while waiting for them to look.
Action: State the action you want to see. “Hold my hand and walk with me to the bathroom.”
Paint: Paint a picture by using words and gestures – Reach out the hand you want the child to hold
while using the other hand to point in front of you.
Use language appropriate to the child’s age and remember the younger the more we will have to repeat,
repeat, repeat as calmly.
A voice that is Aggressive is harsh and says “you better or else...” When using aggressive communication
the goal is not clarity it is to win by overpowering.
• Using statements that start with “you” are a form of attack –“you children are so selfish”
• Threatening – “put those shoes away or I am leaving without you”.
• Using always and never – “you never listen, I’m done wasting time repeating myself!
• Tone – “ROSIE, HOLD MY HAND AND WALK TO THE BATHROOM WITH ME”
• Any statement ending with “NOW!”
• Making assumptions about another’s viewpoint “you are just doing that to make me mad”
• In response to feeling threatened – “Don’t talk back to me, young lady”
• Physically responding to child – grabbing, squeezing, spanking...
• Imposing extreme consequences when emotional– “No TV for two weeks!”
A Passive or questioning voice is the voice of “do it for me... pretty please?” When using passivity, the goal
is not clear communication but wanting to keep the other person happy.
• Bribery – “if you are good at the store, I’ll get you a candy at checkout.” • Adding Okay? “let’s brush your teeth, okay?”
• Giving choices when none exist – “Can you put your shoes on?” or “Are you ready for bed?”
• Asking questions instead of communicating what we want – “What should you be doing?” or “Why did you take you shoes off?” or “Are you being nice?”
• Ignoring a conflict hoping it’ll resolve itself.
• Blaming child for our upset – “Don’t make me ground you” or “You are driving me nuts”
• Pleading – “Aww come on guys. Get ready for bed . I’ve had a long day.
• Manipulating using guilt – “I wish our family would eat together at dinner.”
Both of these voices invite children to challenge us.
The trouble is that passivity leads to aggression – when we tried to be nice and now must put the
hammer down. Then aggression begets aggression – child is going to either fight or surrender – the
goal is cooperation.
An Assertive voice is a voice of no doubt. A voice that clearly communicates with straightforward
statements about our feelings, wishes or thoughts. It requires us to make decisions – are they always “the
right” ones no but it creates a sense of safety and clarity.
• State what we want, need expect – “It’s time to go potty. Take my hand and walk to the bathroom” or “pick up your plate and put it in the dishwasher.
• Matching nonverbal communication with verbal – appear confident and in control, sound sure of
yourself, and use gestures to provide information.
• Give choices when they have them – “It’s bath time. Do you want bubbles or no bubbles?” or “It’s
time to get buckled in your seat. You can buckle or I can, what is better for you?”
• Give commands that contain usable information – “Tell Jason, ‘stop calling me name, I don’t like it’.”
Or “tap your brother on the shoulder like this, wait for him to look and then say ‘Turn please.’”
• Own and express feelings – “I feel angry when you interrupt me” or “I don’t like it when you scream
it hurts my ears.”
Visual routines provide predictability, consistency, and clarity to help children feel safe
and comply with expected behaviors in addition to assertive communication.
Examples Where Visual Schedules Can Help
• Clean up for dinner
• Get ready for the morning
• Days of where child will be in different class/daycare days or parents’ house
• Other transition times
If there is a chaotic time your home this could be helpful.
o Keep it simple with a picture and few words
o Limit it to 6 steps or less
o Order steps in a line in the order you want them to happen.
o Post it in the area where the behavior needs to happen –
bedroom for bedtime, bathroom for potty, etc.
o Optional - Incorporate a visual warning like a sand timer
▪ “2 minutes until clean up time”
Take pictures of your child doing the task or use attached images to get started
What Now? ------- Commit
Remind yourself 5x a day “what I focus on I get more of”. When you wake up, at meals,
bedtime and when you are upset.
Pay attention to your focus. Are you focusing on what you want to happen, or on what you
don’t want to happen?
When you’re upset, pivot. Acknowledge that you are upset and ask yourself “do I want to
have more of this in my life?” If the answer is no, breathe and tell your child what you want
them to do and why.
Listen to yourself talk to children. Are you passive, aggressive or assertive?
Get the child’s attention before you speak. Move close and wait for them to look at you.
If they ignore you tell them “I am going to show you what I want you to do”
When you are frustrated express your feelings directly – “I feel______ when you _____”
or “I don’t like it when you ________”.
Be kind to yourself as you learn new words to communicate what you want.
Sources: Conscious Discipline Parent Curriculum & Easy to Love Difficult to Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey
All information is from consciousdiscipline.com/ and their YouTube channel www.youtube.com/lovingguidance
Visual Schedule for chaotic moments of the day.