Why won’t my kid behave? What makes him so angry? How can I control his angry behavior? Why is his behavior rude and obnoxious? How can we teach respect and responsibility? Are all kids his age lazy? What am I doing wrong?
These are common questions that come up in parenting classes I teach and attend. One of the biggest concerns of parents, teachers and care givers is how to get their kids to behave. I know this for a fact, because my husband and I have six adult children, foster children and now grandchildren. We see them with eyes of love and tolerance but are also aware that some children are more “high maintenance” than others.
Labels Become Self Fulfilling Prophecies
There are many labels that adults put on children who do not immediately obey instructions. some are called ADD, ADDHD, Extreme kids, Indigo Child, Star Children and I have even heard them revered to as spoiled brats. The problem with labels, titles and roles is that children soon begin to be that which they are called. If they are seen as difficult, they will continue to be difficult.
Encouragement Toward Positive Goals
Although we may want and desire our children to automatically know what to do and say that will please us and society, life doesn’t work that way. We must believe in our children if they are to believe in themselves. In order to feel adequate and accepted, children need frequent encouragement. A cooperative relationship depends on how children feel about themselves and their place in the world.
Although adults and other important people do not cause children to misbehave, we can reinforce and encourage their misbehavior without being aware of what our expectations are for the child. The child may be unaware that his action is seeking one of the four goals of misbehavior;
- Display of inadequacy
No effective parenting will work long term unless the whole family works together to build a respectful and positive relationship. Most families with a difficult child who appears rude, defiant and lazy have tried everything before recognizing that it is a family concern and can only be resolved by working together.
Be Kind But Firm
Have a family council and decide what kind of a family you want to be and how to achieve those goals. Set reasonable consequences and make sure the whole family understands what the rules and guidelines are going to be. Don’t worry about every little infraction, but instead concentrate on a few behavior issues that are disrupting the quality of family life. Ask the children to draw the chore calender or behavior chart. Help them to become empowered with their own place in the family.
Consistent Consequences and Expectations
In my experience, it is not that parents don’t love their children, rather it is the opposite. They want the best for the whole family but often discourage positive behavior by focusing on the negative. Follow through and be consistent and you will be rewarded by not living with a difficult child, but rather a good kid having an occasional bad day.
I have confidence in you.
Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker
PS: Another great resource is http://www.kidschoresandmore.com which will help the whole family work together so there will be more free time for fun activities.