Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 thoughts on helping your child to behave

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for those of you frequent readers, you may remember the previous discipline posts that i've shared with you.  (discipline with natural consequences and the stoplight discipline method).

but i've heard a few things in response.  the main themes being...
what if that doesn't work?
my kids are way too out of control for that.
i just don't know what to do anymore...

here are some thoughts from me on behavior management.  take them for what they're worth with a disclaimer that i'm not an expert, just a preschool teacher and fellow mommy.  i'm in no way trying to be preachy in this post. 

for me, there is a strong belief that we must teach our children to learn to regulate themselves, not submit to our will.  some children are more easy-going, some challenge us several times during the day.  the key is to find out what works for you and what is age-appropriate and mentally/emotionally supportive for the child.  

1. it's going to take some time to get a new behavioral plan in place.

2. you have to stick with it.
3. even if your child gets upset with you, he will still love you.
4. time-outs can work...sometimes...for some children.  if you chose to use them, here are a few suggestions to help make them effective:
  • designate a time-out chair/bench. 
  • time-outs should be no longer than 1 minute per year of the child. 
  • while they are sitting, give positive reinforcement every 30 seconds
  • toys can be put on time-out too (sometimes this gets the point across better... thanks, Lenka, for reminding me of this)
5. avoid waiting "until daddy comes home". by then, the child has likely forgotten their wrong-doing and will not connect the consequences with their actions.
6.  when all else fails...let the consequences happen.  obviously, i'm not saying let them do something unsafe.  but if they are misusing a toy, sometimes allowing it to break, will teach that they must be careful with their toys. sometimes a gentle reminder is needed "if we are destructive with our toys, they will break. then mommy will have you throw it away
7. stay calm, stay calm, stay calm.  smart as they are, children know how to get a rise out of others.  they aren't being manipulative, just exploring the parent-child dynamic. 
8.  provide positive and acceptable activities.  if you're needing to clean the kitchen, give them some rags and let them "help". 
  • avoid using the word naughty.  this word is generally used in the context of "You're being naughty."  phrasing like this labels the child, not their actions.  instead, phrases such as "poor choices" and "unsafe decisions" can be used.  i often use the phrase,
"I love you, but I don't like the choices that you're making."
9.  it's okay to take a mommy/daddy time-out.  if you think that the situation is more than you can deal with at the moment, let your child know.  "mommy is upset. you're upset.  i think that we both need to take a break to calm down."  sit down next to your child quietly for a few minutes until your heart rate has slowed down.  all too often we  (yes, me) react out of emotion, rather than in a way that we know we should.

10. remember that you are dealing with a child. words hurt...especially when you're little. words said in anger cannot be taken back. and it's never okay to hit a child.

know that i'm just an email away. shoot me a msg, facebook or tweet me.  whatever.  like i said, i'm not an expert, but i'm more than willing to talk to you, let you vent, or give you ideas from myself or my many other momma resources


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