If you have some child behavior problems happening in your home this post will help you get on the road to having a more harmonious home.
Recently we were on vacation in the Bahamas.
This time away from home made it all clear to me.
Like when you’re in a booth at a restaurant and you stand up leaning forward and accidentally hit your head on the hanging chandelier… No? Maybe that’s only happened to me.
Back to my point…
It became clear to me that with one of my kids, we were having some child behavior problems. I am loosely defining behavior problems as the situations below. (When they happen quite regularly instead of sporadically.)
- They habitually refuse your requests.
- They resist your instructions.
- You’re invited to attend power battles on the regular.
All in all, if you’re feeling like you and one of your kids are just not meeting eye to eye, here are some good things to keep in mind!
An Effective Response to Child Behavior Problems
Note: Children have their own likes and dislikes and desires and wants and emotions. Even if our goal was total and immediate obedience (which it shouldn’t be) and we worked towards that, it’d never happen!
Check The Connection, But Don’t Obsess
Connection is a need within families.
Your child desires to feel safe and nurtured and connected with you. This stands true for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and on up. The way the connection happens or what causes it to be strained may differ as children age, but the fact is… healthy connections make for happy family members.
Ways to Connect
- Validate your child where they’re at.
- Call out their strengths in a real and natural way.
- Make eye contact.
- Get down on their level.
- Touch, hug, and cuddle (it’s good for their brains!).
- Spend 1:1 time with them.
- Pay attention to their likes and dislikes and wants.
But beware of the connection trap…
It’s common to see the idea that connection is everything here on the world wide webs. That if you are well connected with your child, they’ll just do what you want. Ha ha ha ha ha. Kids don’t just do what we want because they are their own people.
With their own free wills.
And they don’t always want what we want. So, connection is key for peaceful and safe family relationships, but it is not the answer in and of itself.
Give Power Where Needed, But Not Authority
Power (n): The ability to do something or act in a particular way
Authority (n): The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience
Your children have a need to feel power. A sense of God-given free will.
And the truth is… this is good and fine and doesn’t mean they’re going to be hellions who ignore you.
The key is helping your child exercise their own power in ways that fit within your rules, family values, and boundaries. This means handing over decision-making power to them when you don’t need it, but still maintaining your own authority.
Here’s a good phrase you can use when your child offers you an alternative to your direction. If you are okay with their own idea, but still want to maintain your own authority, then use this phrase or one like it…
“That works for me.”
Give your child choices you are okay with, but maintain your authority. Language of Listening® calls this “permission-giving.”
Evaluate The Rules, Dig Deep
With child behavior problems come a necessary talk about boundaries. Boundaries are something that are already inside us.
The things we are okay with and are not okay with are made into rules.
-You are not okay with hitting, you have a “no hitting” rule.
-You don’t like a mess so the rule is that after dinner everyone helps tidy up.
-Your husband likes to read the paper in the morning in peace, so there is a no talking at the breakfast table rule.
These will be different in every home.
If you find your child is not listening to you or doing what you ask him to do, think deeply about your rules. Do you have too many that you don’t care about? Are you busy half-enforcing quite a few rules instead of really following through on the main ones?
This analogy about walls and doors will help you to firm up your rules in your own mind.
Are they strong-willed or self-directed?
This may be a hard pill to swallow.
I know it was for me.
My fourth child was supposed to be our baby and then I got Surprise Pregnant when he was 9 months. For another 9 months I was nauseous, exhausted beyond belief, and lethargic.
I didn’t do the same things with him I did with the other kids. Add to that his mischievous and slightly flirty demeanor which I really like – and he got away with things the others never would have. When he turned 3 it all became clear…
He was strong-willed. Or so I thought.
Turns out what he was, was self-directed. My mentor from Language of Listening®helped me see that he was not, in fact, strong willed, but was self-directed from a few years without enough structure. I had been more strict with the others and they were more cooperative. I had been strung out and knocked up with him during the important years and – well – we had Work To Do.
Posts On How To Gain Cooperation
- The #1 Thing To Do To Get More Cooperation
- How To Be An Empathetic Mom Without Being Soft On The Rules
- Got A Disobedient Child? Start With These 4 Thing!
- Are Your Kids Strong Willed?
Seek Your Child’s Strengths And Call Them Out
Lastly, it’s so important to call out your child’s strengths.
If you are working on honesty with your child, notice the times they are honest and comment.
“I noticed you told the truth there when it would have been easier to lie. That shows you are honest and brave.”
Your child needs to know you believe in them and that you see the good in them. They know your rules and know when they break them. They can sense when we’re disappointed or exasperated and fed up.
This is why it’s so important to call out the strengths our child has. To help them see the potential that’s inside them. If your child is being particularly uncooperative then this is even more important. They need to know you believe in them.
At the end of the day…
So that child of mine who made me realize I’d been remiss in some of my parenting duties?
We’re still working through it.
But I’m remembering when I get exasperated with my child’s behavior problems…
Our children are their own people.
They have their own wants, desires, likes, and dislikes.
They’re having their own experiences, fears, and trials.
Our job as parents isn’t to create robots who respond immediately to everything we say, but to help raise children who want to make good choices on their own.
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