5 Steps to Deal with your Child’s Misbehavior
In our previous article “8 Reasons Why your Child Misbehave”, we discussed the reasons why children act naughty and mentioned that the first step to dealing with a child’s naughtiness is to understand the reason behind it. We listed some common reasons for children’s’ misbehavior including; children’s inability to control impulses, physical conditions such as being tired or sleepy, their developmental need to move and play, their need for independence, wanting our attention and as a response us not setting consistent limits, to name a few.
In this article, we will discuss what can we do when our child misbehaves.
Before we can discuss what we can do, it is important to mention what we should NOT do.
You should not yell, threaten or name-call or smack. These responses may stop a child doing what they are doing at that moment, but they do not have a long-term or lasting positive effect and do not teach the child socially acceptable behavior. In addition, these responses negatively affect the parent-child relationship and can damage your child’s self-esteem, confidence, and normal social development.
Children learn by example so, if you scream at or smack your child, you are telling him that screaming and hitting are Okay. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It is better to set a good example instead.
So instead of punishment, we need to discipline!
Disciplining children can be a difficult task, especially for determined children. But discipline does not only teach children acceptable and unacceptable behavior, how they are disciplined, also teaches them how to react to difficult situations as adults. If you respond to misbehavior with rational discussion and problem solving, your children will learn to do the same.
So, when your child misbehaves…
1. Remain calm. Take a deep breath… It is OK to step away from a situation and give yourself time to cool off. Deferring punishment gives you time to contemplate reasonable disciplinary action and time for your child to think about what they have done. Be clear that you need time to calm down, and that you will discuss the matter when you are ready. (If the misbehavior is life-threatening act immediately by removing your child from danger).
2. Name the behavior, start by saying “I have noticed that you are behaving…”. Avoid labeling your child as “stubborn”, “naughty” or “bad” as this will cause them to behave accordingly.
3. Find out the reason behind the misbehavior. Asking questions like: “do you feel tired?”, “do you need me?”, “is it too noisy in here?”, “do you need something?” etc. This not only lets them know that you empathize, understand and respect them, but that you are also willing to look into their needs.
4. Offer a solution. This can be done in a number of ways depending on the situation.
· If they are not listening or being stubborn, give them options. For example, “do you want to do your homework now or in 10 minutes?” or get a “Yes” from them, for example, “would you like to go to the park… OK let’s finish our lunch quickly”
· If they are acting naughty, ask for their help, or redirect their attention to something else or remind them of their limits and the consequences that you have set earlier.
· If they are having a tantrum, tell them you will talk to them when they are calm. When they are calm go back to step 3.
5. Reward them for their positive behavior. Try to avoid material rewards and focus on nonmaterial rewards such as playing a game with them, taking them to the park or allowing them to stay up 15 minutes beyond their bedtime.
Finally, parenting should not be a struggle. When we discipline our children while ensuring they feel safe, loved and respected, we get a long-lasting positive effect. Remember, positive reinforcement is far more effective than punishment.