First of all, if you see me chasing my children down the street begging them to behave, understand this, I am not perfect by any means. sometimes the world gets on top of me, and I forget how to deal with things like a human being who has self control, will, understanding and energy. When these moments take over me I can be railroaded into a begging parent who just wants her children’s attention, but they do not want to comply, not because they are naughty, but because they are busy doing there own thing, and my demands are a barrier to this.
I normally get stressed when my children are nearer the roads, or just decide to race each other around the town, in these circumstances I feel helpless, and out of my depth, so I retort to helpless behaviour- begging, whining, eventually snapping at them.
Most parents do the same sort of things, in lots of circumstances. We have no guidelines for what is acceptable, even if we think we have. most of us do not.
We tell our children we are annoyed, then we tell them again, then we tell them again, until eventually we get so annoyed, we take their stuff away, that they will not be going somewhere/getting something, or threaten them that they are going to lose something when they get home, and only rarely carry out our threats.
The child’s view is this, my parents get cross at me, my parents get cross at me, my parents sometimes get so cross at me that my parents take my favourite thing away. To the child this is victimisation and bullying, and leaves them feeling like we do not like them, and that they are a nuisance.
It is very easy to turn this around, and just takes a little patience and consistency, and a diversion of attention. Lots of children lose their tempers quickly, because they are taught by us, that this is how we deal with things, we get cross when we are frustrated, they have our taught behaviours, and exaggerated because they are less mature. Children also get crosser quicker because they are afraid that they are going to lose something, and they are never sure when because it is not clear just when their parent will have had enough, so the pressure is on and they are on edge.
WHAT WE PAY ATTENTION TO WE GET MORE OF.
If you want your child to soften their displays of anger, when they are upset or feeling stressed out. We begin to reinforce the moments when they are not, when they do handle difficulties well, we point it out, we give them small rewards for when they negotiated with their siblings instead of fought. We look out for when they are patient and we tell them that we are proud. We have a token system for when they never threw their remote down, and when they kept their cool playing a game. We give them extra time to play if they were quiet and composed.
Instead of just having ENOUGH, of their behaviour, we are clear and precise, we tell them what we do not like, and we tell them what the consequence of doing it is. That they get a countdown in a visual way- a card system is one of my preferred ones, my children get the chance to stop what they are doing within three purples, they normally stop by the second, and immediately listen at the first. If I say purple three times and they continue, they get red, red means they lose something, and that something is always highlighted with the first purple.
It goes like this:
‘I want you to stop, First Purple, Stop, you will lose your doll for one sleep if you continue’, they normally stop.
I use this when my daughter is being very defiant, and is not listening to me ask her nicely, when she is at risk of becoming harmed, or about to harm her sibling or breaking something. Carrying water into the living room, is her fave, everything needs a bath, wooden floors means slips, so she must ask for help, get towels, instead of just doing it, yet she is inpatient, and we may be busy, so waiting is not her thing, we may have to use purple to get her to stop, and wait two minutes.
It is paramount you give the warning with the consequence, because they then have the option to be a part of what they are going to lose, it is then their responsibility and choice, and we get to explain why that behaviour was unacceptable, once they comply. This simple way of having clear guidelines, instead of us just feeling like we have had enough, gives our children the opportunity to consciously change their behaviour, instead of feeling on edge, unknowing of when we will get fed up and just take their stuff.
If we say thank you, and we mean it, if we then help our children get their water, or ask them why they were cross etc, a child who feels heard is happier, even if they lose their stuff, they realise that they could have stopped it from happening, they learn self control.
Children hate injustice and victimisation, and we load it on them daily, and the sad thing is, we do this because we do not actually want to punish our children, so we hold it off as long as we can, which actually makes it harder for them, because they are unaware of real boundaries. Our kindness becomes cruelty.
So tell them, when you are happy in their company, tell them when they are a good gamer, tell them when they asked for help instead of just doing it, that you would love to help them if you can just finish your job first, maybe get them to hide for ten seconds, and when you find them, you will help them, this gives you time to put away your pc, or dry off your hands from the dishes etc
Of course sometimes you cannot help, because you are cooking or are on an important call etc this can not be helped and children need to know, not now, later. I use purple to get the kids out from under my feet when cooking, especially if there are lots of pans, and before i go in the kitchen I ensure they all have charged appliances or areas set up with their toys in, or a movie playing, whilst I cook.
The degree I attained first was in Parenting, Children and Community Support. I have seen a few children now, and really enjoy coaching them, if they are between 9-13, I normally design a strategy alike the one I have discussed here to help the child feel more in control and less out of control with what happens in his/her life. The parent has to be the one implementing the strategy, and the child fully aware of it. When the child is older than 13 I can normally get a good conversation and have the chance to put in place steps they can take themselves to alter any behaviours that are causing disruption for them and others, I always make sure they know that this is all about their happiness, and that is the priority of why they are with me.
We put a lot on our little people and we expect so much from them (myself included). Sometimes we need to be a witness of their greatness and not just the judge and jury of their mistakes. Only life is busy and we make a bigger fuss when they are in the dock, than not. This is merely because it is not necessary to intervene when there is nothing to intervene, so we do not. How many times are we told, leave a happy child alone, and I agree, and if your child does change when you go over, then wait til you take their dinner in, make sure as you eat together you tell them, that you were watching them and they were behaving really well, and you are proud of them.
If we want better behaviour from our children we have to pay more attention to the behaviour we like, and be clear about the consequences of the behaviour we do not. Our children deserve the wellbeing of being in on what is going on, and how they can effectively improve their behaviour.
It is also wise to note when using this will not work, and when distraction is the best card to pull rather than behaviour modification. After writing the bulk of this, I took my children on the bus, they were hot, flustered, excited, and fighting over a pieces of paper to make into planes, I tried the purple twice, and was not sitting close enough to my children, and the lady in front of me said to her husband ‘should have turned my hearing aid off’, to which I quickly moved towards my children and started showing them how to make a plane. (Maybe someone got up her own ass, writing this today 😉 and needed her own behaviour modification lol).
HASHTAG: Perfect does not exist.