- Testing the boundaries. Children can be rather crafty at any age. Not only do they want to be seen and heard, they also want to see how far they can push their parents or guardians. Contrary to popular belief, kids who do not receive correction can feel unwanted. It is important for parents to establish limits, set boundaries, and enforce them. Furthermore, a parent or guardian doesn’t have to be a cruel taskmaster to see change in their child. Use positive encouragement instead and get your child involved. Toss tough love out the window and truly show your kid you love them.
- Independence Day. By the “terrible two’s” kids begin to assert their will and often frustrate their parents. This is typical of all children and parents should not believe their kid is aberrant or different than other kids. Children and teens want to do things their way, and while that is all well and good, when the behavior is wrong it must be lovingly corrected. Take your child aside and explain to them in a neutral tone why their behavior is wrong. Let them be participants in effecting change by asking for their input as to how they can modify their behavior. In this manner they will feel important, wanted, loved and correct their behavior.
- Say no to rewards. Many parents fail to understand that their child knows bad behavior pays off. If little Johnny is whining at the dinner table because he doesn’t like broccoli, do not reward his behavior by either demanding he eat it or substituting it with other food. Simply tell him what is expected in brief terms and refuse to make further eye contact with him. Kids learn to stop poor behavior when it is ignored. Remember to keep your emotions out of the mix, however.
- Empathize, not criticize. When was the last time as a parent you felt great about being reprimanded? Oh, never? Exactly. Your children react in the same manner. It’s far too easy to criticize and punish errant behavior, but doing so leaves your child angry and rebellious. While rules must be provided, make sure your child understands them. Do not neglect to put yourself in their shoes to gain their perspective. When kids feel that their parents understand them, they typically will agree to follow the limits parents set with parental encouragement.
- Time-ins as opposed to timeouts. Kids have a tendency to misbehave when they are feeling down on themselves or when they sense a disconnection between themselves and their parents. Restricting them to their rooms as a form of punishment sets them apart from the very people they need help from the most. Instead, make a connection with your child. Show them that you care and help them work out the why’s that are the root cause of their misbehavior.
Parents often resort to some form of punishment believing that it will correct poor behavior. This is not the case. Remember the last time you were chastised and how unlikely you were to follow the person’s lead that humiliated you. Demonstrating plenty of compassion and getting your child involved in correcting their own behavior will go considerably further than shouting, spanking or other forms of punishment such as timeouts. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would want to be treated and then act on it. Best of all, demonstrate compassion.