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5 Parenting Tools to Improve Your Family This Year
You are preparing breakfast for your children and everyone is laughing, getting along, and anxiously anticipating their favorite delicious blueberry pancakes.
Your 3-year-old daughter yells, “I want my orange fork, not the pink one.” Of course, your child has NEVER wanted the orange fork before. However, you grant the request only to have your child scream, “I don’t want pancakes!”
You wonder if you even know your child anymore. Your child is willing to throw herself into a temper tantrum over even the smallest requests. The tension in your family escalates and you lose it. You yell, “STOP SCREAMING!” and “Yes you WILL eat your pancakes!!”
In a moment of clarity you realize that you just yelled at your child to stop screaming. You were never one to believe the cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” But here you are living it.
Yes, most parents have felt the guilt of yelling at their kids in an effort to teach them to behave. I have been there too. I found a better way by studying positive discipline. Using these toolbox of strategies will help transform your family.
The tools below will hopefully help you see misbehavior in a different way. By implementing these tools in your life, you will see a remarkable difference in your family.
Parenting Tools #1 – Find Out what is Causing Inappropriate Behavior?
There is always something behind the behavior. The temper tantrum isn’t really about the pink fork. It is instead something intrinsic in your child. Could your child be wanting attention? Does your child just want to be the boss? Is your child seeking revenge? Does your child feel inadequate? Why do they act like they do?
You will need to be a be a code breaker – Children often have mistaken beliefs about a particular situation whether they feel inadequate, or desire a power struggle because they aren’t getting enough attention. Children want their attention buckets full and will behave inappropriately to get it.
The next time your child acts out, ask yourself what goal is your child trying to accomplish through his behavior? Is he hurt by something someone did or said and now wants revenge? Does she feel inadequate, because she is struggling to cut her pancakes?
When we understand the cause of these behaviors, then we have the ability to be more proactive in dealing with issues before they even happen.
Let’s go back to our example above when your daughter throws a temper about wanting the orange fork and not the pink one. You have determined that she wants some attention. You can redirect her by involving her in a useful task like putting napkins on the table. Remind your 3-year-old that you love her and appreciate her help. You can also plan time together that is special. You and her can spend time doing an activity that she wants to do.
Parenting Tools #2 Be Consistent
Parents know the importance of being consistent. Unfortunately, stuff happens. A parent calls to cancel the carpool, school days are cancelled, or your calendar added a few more items at the last minute. Things get in the way. It is always best to maintain routines and schedules as well as expectations in your home…most of the time.
Do you have a bedtime routine where the kids brush their teeth and get their pajamas on before you read a bedtime story to them? If so, maintain that routine every night. What about a morning routine? Routines are ideal in following through with expectations.
What about expectations when it comes to electronics? Do you have a policy in place to include when to turn off electronic devices? What happens if the kids do not follow through with these expectations? Establish rules as a family as well as consequences for not following the rules. Then be consistent in following through with the pre-determined consequences every single time.
When parents are consistent with establishing rules and following through with consequences, kids are much more likely to follow the rules and not act out as often.
Parenting Tools #3 Get Rid of Reward Systems
What? Yes. This may be surprising, but rewards, even though they sound positive, are harmful down the road. With rewards, your child will likely gain a sense of entitlement and develop a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. If you give your well-behaved child a dollar store toy because she was so good at the library, what will happen the next time? She will most likely expect another dollar store toy, or maybe even a toy AND a treat.
Perhaps you bribe your child with ice cream if he practices the piano every day. It stands to reason that he will hold off on playing the piano until he knows that he will get the ice cream. Studies show that kids who are rewarded will lose interest in the activity.
Parenting Tools #4 Control Yourself, Not Your Kids
This is so difficult, especially when the situation is intense and everyone is at their whit’s end. Of course, we can all yell at our kids and scare them into acting appropriately or threaten to punish them if their room isn’t cleaned by yesterday.
We need to remember that we were all children once trying to figure out how to do things that as adults we take for granted. Take it easy on these little people. They have not yet been equipped to handle difficult situations or act appropriately all of the time. Heck we adults sometimes have a difficult time acting appropriately all of the time.
We can decide how we can control our responses to any given situation when we plan it out ahead of time. We can start by deciding in advance what we are willing to do and also what age-appropriate responsibility can rest on the shoulder of our child. This can include things like putting toys away, loading the dishwasher or even rides to school.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your teenage son would like you to drop him off at school in the morning instead of him having to walk the 2 blocks to his bus stop. You are happy to drop him off if he is dressed, his homework is in his backpack and he Is ready at the door by 7:30 because you need to leave by 7:30 to be on time for work.
You can decide together what your son needs to do in order to be ready by 7:30. Does he need to put his bag by the door the night before? Does he need to set an alarm to make sure he is awake on time?
Make sure there is a clear understanding of your part and your son’s part. You have empowered your son to be responsible for getting up and being ready to go. He has the confidence that he can do it. Don’t remind him or nag him. This isn’t your problem.
Now it is time to follow through with the plan. If your son is ready at the door at 7:30, then you are happy to take him. If he isn’t, then you will have an opportunity to address what went wrong later. Your son will most likely be upset that you left him behind to walk the 2 blocks to the bus stop, but you can kindly remind him that in order to be on time to work, you need to leave at 7:30.
When you decide in advance how you will handle possible difficult circumstances and clearly communicate your expectations, then you will not likely have to react to problems in the heat of the moment as often.
Parenting Tools #5 Use Positive Discipline
Positive discipline focuses on empowering and encouraging kids and adults for that matter, to act appropriately where punishment focuses on inflicting pain on inappropriate behavior.
Before you spank a child, ask yourself, “Does spanking empower or encourage my child to use more appropriate behavior?” Before you ground your teenager from hanging out with their friends for a week, ask yourself if you are empowering or encouraging your child to change the behavior that got him grounded in the first place? I am going to say probably not.
When we focus on solving problems, we are teaching our kids to grow up to be capable, confident, and responsible young adults.
Please comment below with parenting tools you have used to help with inappropriate behaviors in your family.
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