Discipline for Softies

Q. What do you do if your child follows your request only halfway?

A. Believe it or not, if your child only does a so-so job, you should give her just as much praise as you would if she completed the whole job. You can say, "Terrific! You've picked up three of the toys! Hmmm...I wonder if next time you'll be able to pick up all five toys?" This isn't hollow praise, because changing behavior is a gradual process. Every time you reinforce a halfhearted effort, you're moving one step closer to your ultimate goal. Think of it in terms of a toddler learning to walk. When she wobbles to you in a way that only slightly resembles walking, you immediately encourage the behavior by saying, "Wow! Look at you walking! Let me move back a little. Can you try again?" You wouldn't use hurtful words like, "No way, that's not walking."

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