I have been practicing Conscious Discipline (By Dr. Becky Bailey) for many years. As a classroom management strategy, when students come into the class, I notice all appropriate behavior and voice that out loud. If disruption happens, I do not point that out but instead voice out loud the specific on-task behaviors I see and appreciate it. Sometimes I do this with excitement and students off-task will run over and do the expected behavior, if only to be noticed. I then notice that!
This was generally taught. But I practiced it so often it became second nature. The instant I saw an off-task behavior, I voiced out loud appreciation for the on-task behavior I saw. I did this with specific and detailed noticings.
Saying “good job” is not very helpful and they don’t believe you anyway. However, noticing and describing what you want to see has worked wonders! So it could look like this. “Tom went right to his seat and sat down, way to go, that is responsible!” As they say, what you focus on is what you see. In addition, you will see what you expect to see.
When my son was very young, and he was going through a hard time, he didn’t believe me when I gave a compliment. I had to get specific. One example could look like this. “When you carried your plate to the sink, that was helpful.” The more you do that, the more you will see it and the more the child will believe their worth.
I recently realized that for many years, this management system has felt second nature. I don’t think about it. I just do it. Yet one day, I realized that in my own personal life, it was lacking. I can be a master at noticing my flaws and flaws in others. I have often talked about how our negative thinking can create depression, anxiety and it has for me time and time again. When I notice that, and change my focus, it does wonders for my state of mind. A book that can explain that in such detail is Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy book by David D. Burns.
So I realized I need to practice it more until it becomes second nature, in this part of my life. When I notice a thought based in lack or limitation, it is important to respond to that thought in an opposite way. As I start affirming what I want to see or feel, I will notice and feel these new truths. It could be as simple as this. “A solution presents itself to me.” “I feel good!” As I recently said to another friend, rehearse it until it is real in your life.
Maybe one day, this too will feel second nature.