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.
A while ago, on a vacation in the Bahamas, I had a revelation…
Maybe it was the time away from my daily grind, maybe it was the sun and the sand, but whatever it was really got me thinking!
It became clear to me, like a ton of bricks… that one of my kids was having some serious behavior problems.
I’m (loosely) defining child behavior problems as:
- Habitually refusing requests.
- Resisting instructions.
- Invitations to attend power battles regularly.
All in all, I was feeling as though one of my kids and I just weren’t meeting eye to eye.
The following is the no-drama approach that worked for me!
It is distressing when we have struggles!
I can’t begin sharing this list of things that worked without explaining this first…
I had to recognize and accept that my child had his own likes, dislikes, desires, wants, and emotions.
Total and immediate obedience was not on the table, and shouldn’t be, at this time.
Furthermore, striving to understand my child gave me the power to sit back and complete these 5 no-drama steps that worked! I hope you find them useful!
Step 1: Check the Connection, but Don’t Obsess
Connection is a need within families and healthy connections make for happy family members.
Your child desires to feel safe and nurtured and connected with you. This stands true for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and on up.
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.
Kids will be their own people, and we want them to be. They will have their own free wills, and we want them to!
The problem arrises when they don’t always want what we want. So, connection is key for peaceful and safe family relationships.
Step 2: Understand the difference in power and authority
Child behavior problems often lie right here, mama….
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
Children have a need to feel power. As a mom, one of our main jobs is to teach them to access their God-given free will in a way that is appropriate and respectful.
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.“
Step 3: Evaluate if your child is 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.
The truth is, 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 kinda 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.
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
You see, I had to learn how to harness my child’s indipendence and help direct him towards obedience. Yes, this can be done!
Step 4: 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.
It may be time to ask yourself some questions…
- Do you have too many rules?
- Are you having a hard time enforcing the rules that matter?
- Do all of your rules fit into the boundaries act you want?
- Are you too busy half-enforcing rules that aren’t that important?
This analogy about walls and doors will help you to firm up your rules in your own mind.
Step 5: Seek Your Child’s Strengths And Call Them Out
I have learned that 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 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 their strengths. After all, we want them to see the potential that’s inside them.
Seeking and calling out your child’s strength is even more important if they have been particularly uncooperative. This will teach them to look for positive enforcement instead of trouble.
In short, our kids need to know that we believe in them!
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.
And, 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.