Parenting Series- Saying ” You Are Being Bad” Is No Good!

When we are dealing with our children, it is all too common for us to blurt out something about them being ” bad ” at certain times. This may not seem too harmful but it really is quite a useless phrase in many ways. For example , ” bad ” compared to what? Compared to the kid next door? Actually the most effective way I have seen to teach children is to label the skill you are discussing with your child. However it is hard to label a skill if you cannot identify it any better then ” bad” . so we break down most behaviors into skills that can be easily taught by parents and school teachers alike. 

Social skills are very important to know and to teach, as they can make or break a child’s ability to cope as they come up through schools and also make friends. The goal of a parent should be to identify a social skill in every single teaching interaction they are doing with their child, so the skill will become embedded in the child and the parent. There are literally hundreds of social skills but unless you work and live in a controlled environment like I did for a long time, it can be very hard to train yourself to constantly be teaching and going over nothing but social skills. Therefore when working with the average parent in the average home setting, I recommend you set a goal of learning 10 social skills that you will adopt into your daily dialogue with your children. Ten is not too many but enough to make a huge difference in your child and accountability in general. 

I will today start slowly as to get you accustomed to the idea of using and labeling skills in the house. We will take one skill, which is called FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS. Here are the steps to following instructions that you will teach your child and you will memorize;

1- Look at the person

2-Say Ok

3- Do the task

4-Check back

From now on you will be addressing the things you ask your child to do as instructions. For example, ” Suzy, I am going to give you an instruction now so please pay attention. Please go and take the trash out. ” At this point Suzy should have learned to say  ” OK” as the first step says. She should be making eye contact the whole time, and then go and complete the task. After completion, Suzy should return to you and say something like ” All done” or ” Checking back”. You will respond by saying ” Great job of following instructions! ” Now depending on the system of motivation you have in place the child may earn rewards if they are young, or be working towards a long term reward. This is called a motivation system and I put these in place for families on an individual basis as part of my services.

Whether you choose to use a motivation system or not, you should incorporate the skills I am teaching you into your daily routine to build a skill bank in your child. I will be sharing many social skills as times goes on, and you can add them as you like to your list at home that you teach your child. If you prefer to implement a comprehensive behavioral program all at once right away for your child, then please contact me if you would like me to provide that service and build a custom treatment plan for your child, with on-going consultation. If you prefer to go along one skill at a time, that is fine, just keep up with the skills I am teaching here!

Should you have questions about what services I offer please contact me at


Author: (Don't Label My Kid! Coaching & Counseling Team)

Social Worker- Mental Health, Addictions, and Behavioral health- Leadership Educator-, Juvenile Justice. A variety of coaching. I have a great desire to help others make it through times that I myself have had to navigate. I understand the process, the pain,and the support needed. I, and the rest of my team all have both the formal education to coach others but more importantly we also have the life experience which allows us to relate to all the phases and hurdles that come with recovering from issues like depression, addiction, domestic violence, spiritual confusion, and much more. I feel that the combination of formal training and life experience allows us to meet those we help every point of need- in a real way.

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