12 Principles To Deal With Inappropriate Behaviour: Part 1
Being a parent can be hard at times, especially when it comes to knowing how to deal with your child’s behaviour. It may seem sometimes that you have just got to the bottom of one thing, and then something new presents itself – a new behaviour or challenge you haven’t seen before and you feel unsure of how to deal with.
As children move through different development stages in their life it can be a tricky time for both the parent and the child. During these stages children are learning and processing a lot of information and that can be scary and confusing for them. It is important therefore, that during this time when they are developing independence and working out their place in the world, that some loving firmness and boundary setting is needed from their parents, and that the parents appear in control, happy and secure – after all children will often feed from and mirror our emotions.
Boundaries are important to children because they help to create safety and they feel protected by knowing what is expected of them. We can all relate to this as adults in our own lives, through work and social situations for example. Boundaries help children to know that you care about them (even though it might not seem that way sometimes!).
As children grow older and move through stages of development, they will push boundaries and test them, and at this point is it important that parents revisit parameters they have set for their children to ensure they are still appropriate.
To manage your child’s behaviour successfully there are a few key things to consider:
- It is important to preserve your child’s dignity and support their self esteem
- There is more to it than just the things you do and say
- Be aware of your body’s non-verbal language (the way you stand, the way you look, how you use your hands for example)
- What language and tone of voice are you using?
All of the points above help to create a trusting relationship and this is the most valuable tool you have when dealing with your child’s behaviour in an effective and supportive way.
There are 12 tools that parents can use and consider when dealing with inappropriate behaviour and in this blog, part 1 of 3, we are going to be looking at numbers 1-4.
- Managing Your State
We have all been there as parents. Your child is playing up, not listening to your requests, pushing your buttons. You can feel your patience running out, your temper rising and your ability to remain calm fading before you with feelings of exasperation creeping in. Sound familiar?
Before we can expect to successfully manage the behaviour of other people however, we need to manage our own. When we are frustrated and upset, strategies can go out of the window and this will not only leave you feeling disappointed, but also give confusing and unclear messages to your child. Breathing and relaxation is an excellent technique you can use for both adults and children to calm down. You can read about the importance of breathing and the link it has to both your physical and mental health, along with a simple to follow breathing exercise in our blog here.
- Home Rules and Rewards
Do you have rules at home?
Most parents would say yes they do. But are these rules clear, and do ALL members of the family know what is expected of them?
One of the keys to creating rules is to ensure they are consistent. This way the messages that children are getting are clearer and easy to understand. If both parents are playing by different rules then this can cause splitting which is a defence mechanism used by children where they may favour one parents over another if they know perhaps one is more lenient towards their behaviour. Another point to consider is do any other family members look after your children and how do they deal with inappropriate behaviour?
Some top tips to ensure good rules and systems are being put in place are:
- To write your rules down for everyone to see and refer to
- Have an open dialogue with your partner and other caregivers to establish the rules and ensure you are all comfortable and feel able to work together in ensuring consistency for your child
- Ensure rules are consistently referred to, and positivity around the rules in reinforced in the same way and to the same level by everyone
- Introduce a monitoring chart or system creating a visual aid for your child
- Ensure both parents or caregivers are on the same page
“Our children are counting on us to provide two things: Consistency and structure. Children need parents who say what they mean, mean why they say, and do what they say they are going to do” – Barbara Coloroso
- Helicopter View
Like anything, it can be easy to get lost in the moment. When something is distressing us, we are so close to it, so emotionally involved and it can be very hard to take a step back and think objectionably about what is happening.
Taking a ‘Helicopter view’ means taking a step back and looking at the situation by seeing the bigger picture. Imagine a helicopter taking off and the higher it gets, the detail at ground level becomes less, and we see more in our vision. The same approach can be taken with our children’s behaviour. If you can feel yourself getting suffocated by the situation and feel your emotional brain taking over, try and take a deep breath and pull back from the situation. This will help you see things much more rationally and clearly.
It is important to remember to not take your child’s behaviour personally, something that we have all done before. Your child’s behaviour is a form of communication, and by trying to establish what they are trying to tell us, this should help us determine how we react to it.
- Broken Record Technique
When you are dealing with your child’s behaviour and you have already repeated yourself several times it can be easy to, sometimes subconsciously, lose your patience and let the tone of your voice increase and the softness disappear replaced with more harsh, threatening tones. As we all know, this rarely ever improves the situation (sometimes fuelling the behaviour) and usually results in overwhelmed, emotional parents and children.
We have all heard the phrase “like a broken record” describing when something is repeated over and over again – the same tone, the same pace, almost rhythmical. This is a great technique you can use with your children when dealing with their behaviour. By repeating your request and not deviating when your child’s behaviour escalates, you will be giving them a clearer and more consistent message.
- Stay calm
- Acknowledge your child’s request
Next week we will be discussing four more techniques to use to support you in dealing with your child’s behaviour. By honestly assessing how you currently deal with your child’s behaviour, and implementing some of the key techniques we discuss in this three part series, we are confident that you will see improvements!
Why not let us know below or on our Facebook page if anything you have tried has worked, we would love to hear your feedback!
You can read about all 12 techniques, and more learn more about understanding your child’s behaviour in my Best Selling book, “Your Happy Child, 10 Proven Steps To Raising A Happy Child” – click here to buy your copy on Amazon or if you want a signed copy you can order directly from my website.