What the Sandwich Method Is and How It Can Transform Your Child’s Behavior Without Being Too Harsh

Being a parent is a difficult job: to educate and teach values and correct behavior without hurting a child seems to be nearly impossible. But researchers say, constructive criticism is easy, if you do it right. This is where the sandwich method comes in — to make parenting more effective and enjoyable for both sides!

Here at Bright Side we love to learn about different communication techniques that can make conflict resolution smoother and more pleasant, especially when it comes to kids. So go grab a pen, you can thank us later!

Child psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, shares that many parents either express their complaints in a very rough way or, on the contrary, are afraid to talk too harshly to their children. Dr. Amen has identified 2 characteristics that can make a positive difference in parenting: being both firm and loving.

When parents are being specific and firm about unwanted behavior, but present it with love, kindness, and care, they will always have good results. Here’s how it works — wrap criticism in soft but truthful comments and praise, so that the child does not take your words too critically.


Before you get to the point, try to start the conversation with something positive about the child. This will break the ice and relieve stress. It`s important to be specific here, general words like, “you’re a good child” will not work. If you’re going to talk about their behavior, it is better to recall a moment when the child behaved in a nice way and maybe when they had positive effect on others.

State your opinion — be detailed and specific

As soon as you’re sure the child has heard you, you can address issues or troubled behavior. Again, observations, comments, and remarks should be specific. Phrases like, “I dislike your behavior” or “You should never do that again” not only don`t explain what the child did wrong, but they can also make the child pull away from the conversation. Don`t scold the kid and don`t tell them how to behave, instead try to come to a solution together to improve the situation, by talking on equal terms.

Ask for their opinion

Once you have finished the main part, try to get feedback from your child. It’s important to hear how the kid received your message. Ask the child if they understood what you explained. Do they agree with this, do they have something to add. It’s ok if the child wants to argue with you, maintain a calm voice tone, listen, and don`t interrupt them, then discuss the nuances together.

Tell your kid how much you love them

It`s important to get out of the conversation correctly so that the child doesn`t think that they have disappointed you and that you no longer love them. This can develop a strong sense of guilt in the mind of the child or they may start behaving worse in protest. End the talk with another specific praise — try to not use generic statements and overused words, but tell them about your true, positive feelings.

We all know that there are no perfect children. But we always have to look for the best in them and build on the positive. Have you ever used the “sandwich method” with your kids? What problems did it help you solve? We`d be happy to hear from you in the comment section below!

Illustrated by Olga Khodiukova for BrightSide.me