In working with parents, I can see that most of the time when a child is behaving badly, they feel bad in themselves. It can be that they need more time and attention from the parent, and they have found a way to get attention, through their behaviour. Sadly, a child’s misbehaviour may be that they feel the only way to get their parents attention is through misbehaviour, they discover this and in their eyes, negative attention is better than no attention.
There is only one rule in this house – R E S P E C T
However, the parent need not demand Respect from the child; rather they simply need to demonstrate and teach it. Have as few rules as possible; and then ensure that you
SAY IT, MEAN IT, DO IT
Parents do not realise how important their behaviour is in being a role model for their children. If I roar “BE QUIET!”; all I am teaching my children is that when angry and frustrated, that it is acceptable to raise my voice and ‘lose it’ with another.
I need to be in charge of my behaviour, in order for my children to be in charge of theirs.
Take an Action for self; not against the child
When I feel I have gone from zero to ten, I need to take responsibility for my behaviour and ask myself: “What is it I need to do for myself?” Actions for self may be:
- Deep breathing
- Count to ten
- Make a cup of tea and mind yourself till you calm down
- Leave the room for a moment
- Ask your partner to take over, so you can have Time Out
- Stay separate to the child’s behaviour and do not personalise it
- Stay calm
When your children see you take charge of yourself, to stay in charge of your behaviour, it shows them how to do that for themselves.
Acknowledge the Feeling
Taking the time to acknowledge your child’s feeling can reduce some strong feelings, here are some examples:
- “I know you’d like to stay on in the Park longer, I see you like it here. But time is up for today, now we must go”
- “It’s hard to get up this morning, it nice to be in bed, would you like to get up now or have an extra five minutes?”
- “You miss your Granny, you loved her very much, you wish she was still here”.
When they feel right, they will behave in positive ways
Therefore, if you see that a child who is troubled or troubling is not out to make your life difficult, rather they are trying to show you how difficult life is for them, then does it not make sense that the best response is showing kindness to them. “I love you, but I cannot accept this behaviour” is the best response as “You’re bold” simply makes the child feel they are bad, and their troubling behaviour will escalate until someone sees their distress.
They more positive Time & Attention you give your child, the less they will demand
Time In versus Time Out
Think about if you were 2/4/6/8 and an angry parent sent y to Time Out; how would you feel? When I ask parents this, the responses are always the same:
Abandoned, lonely, confused, angry, bad about myself, upset, alone, isolated etc. Many parents find it does not work and therefore if your child does not feel right, perhaps they need Time In?
Time in is Time into the feelings that underlie the behaviour and children respond very well to this less punitive and rigid approach. I will approach the child with gentleness and calmness and try to acknowledge their feeling. “Sounds like you’re upset honey, are you okay? Sit with the child and explore their feeling and try to give them a sense of feeling understood, this reduces their heightened emotions and your role modelling of calmness teaches them how to behave.
Say it in words; not actions – “When you calm down, I can talk to you”
Is a boundary around how the parent allows the child to behave towards them. Remember, no one disrespects me unless I allow them to. Therefore, regardless of age, ensure your children know you are not available for shouting/hitting/biting/screaming/or insults from a teenager by telling them “I am not available for shouting; when you calm down I can talk to you”
It is good to set a boundary around how to respond to anger or upset and therefore telling your child to ‘Say it in words; not actions” teaches them to come to you with their distress.
Give positive attention when children behaving well
Ignore negative behaviour
Offer a Choice: “Would you like to wear the red one or the blue one?”
8 Minutes a day 1:1 Time is all a child needs to feel good
One on One Time works wonders as your child needs positive attention and time with you, to feel loved, valued and secure. Notice his/her behaviour improve as you offer daily One on One time
Choice & Consequence – do not over use!!
“If you choose to fight, you are choosing to miss your TV show”
“If you choose not to fight, you are choosing to have your TV show”
Consequences should be given without getting cross, as the child has made that choice, also
Come with a warning:
Natural: if you make a mess; you tidy up “As soon as you tidy, you can watch your show”
Fair: many parents over punish, so an apology, miss some TV, lose a treat/privilege etc