The Sandwich Method

Addressing negative behaviors in other people’s children is tricky. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve taught a Sunday School class or supervised a play date and at the end, the parents inevitably ask, “How was he/she?” It’s important not to ‘tattle’ on a child if an issue has occurred and it has been successfully dealt with, but it’s also important to be honest.

Likewise, hearing anything negative about your child is extremely difficult. Although we, as parents, see them at their worst, we love them anyway. And we always expect (or at least hope) that others feel the same. We want individuals interacting with our children, whether teachers, coaches, or youth leaders, to always look for the best in our child! It’s important to keep this in mind as we interact with other people’s children.

As a former first grade teacher, I’ve had my fair share of conferences with parents (both scheduled and impromptu). I have found a method that positively communicates with a parent, whether or not the child’s exhibited behavior was positive or not. I call it the sandwich method.

Here’s how it works.

1) The Bread: Start with something genuinely positive about the child. Be specific…don’t be generic. “She’s such a sweet girl,” or “He’s a good kid,” is not good enough. Think of something specific that you’ve noticed about the child that had a positive impact on those around him/her.
2) The Meat: Once you’ve said something positive, now it’s time to address any issues or negative behavior you think the parent needs to be aware of.
3) The Bread: End the conversation with another specific compliment on the child. Again, try your hardest not to use generic statements.

This is a powerful tool for people of all ages because we are validating the child (or co-worker or mother-in-law) and seeing him/her in a positive light overall while still tackling whatever difficulties have arisen.

We all know that our children aren’t perfect (and neither are we), but we still want to know that the people caring for them in our absence always look for the best in them! The ‘Sandwich Method’ reinforces this while still communicating honestly with parents.

Try it out the next time you are watching over someone else’s children…or even the next time you have conflict with an adult! If I was on the receiving end of such a dialogue, I would be absolutely thrilled that someone cared to notice the precious and admirable qualities in my child (or even in me)!

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4 thoughts on “The Sandwich Method

  1. Great post Jenae. I have personally had this method used on me, and I must say it is much easier to accept criticism from someone who expresses how much they love me!

    I would LOVE to attend the MOMlife getaway. Because, well… I need to get away! I know it would be a refreshment to my soul.

    Thanks again Janae. Have a blessed day!

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  2. That is a great post. Great idea!

    I would love to attend the MOMlife getaway too! I have two little boys at home, one is just 9 months old. I rarely get out of the house or get to talk to other moms. I would love to be challenged and refreshed, so I could come home and be a better wife and mother.

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  3. Nice advise. I sometimes wondered if I should tell other mom's of their children s behavior! — just because I don't like to hear negative stuff about my kids—I would love to attend the getaway, let me hope over!

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  4. I am a mother of 3 ( 4, 2, 8mth) … I think I need the getaway as a away to refreshen myself… get some advise and more…

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