When I deliver a live parent lecture, I sometimes ask my audience to raise their hand if their parents used punishment when they misbehaved. Most hands go up, revealing that punishment was a common parenting tool back in the day. Since that time, society has determined that punitive treatment of our children is no longer acceptable. Researchers have also determined that children who are punished are more likely to have low self-esteem and experience depression or even suicidal thoughts as adults.
Many of today’s parents also understand how important the experience during the early years of childhood contribute to the success of their children in their adult years. This includes how happy they are, how well they seek out healthy living habits, and how well they are able to select other healthy adults into their lives. So if you want to set your child up for success, here are just a few suggestions on how to handle challenging behaviors with your children. This does not serve as a complete list, but simply a few suggestions to get you started.
FIND A FUN WAY TO GET YOUR NEEDS MET. Sometimes a parent is on a mission to accomplish some task and his children are making it difficult by demonstrating uncooperative behavior. Ask yourself, “What fun can I add to this moment that will provide some cooperation. One day I was bound and determined to get the leaves raked up in the yard and my kids did not want to help. Instead of getting angry, yelling and punishing them, I issued a challenge to my three kids: WHOEVER COULD RAKE UP THE LARGES PILE OF LEAVES WOULD GET THROWN INTO IT. The kids immediately ran out into the yard to begin raking. My goal was accomplished
GIVE YOUR CHILD A SENSE OF VALUE. A woman shared with me that her son would act out and misbehave whenever she was busy in the kitchen preparing for a big meal for a family gathering. Perhaps the boy felt as if he was competing with the kitchen activities for his mom’s attention. I told her to make a list of all the guests who will be coming to dinner, and have the boy create a drawing on a large 8.5″ x 17″ piece of paper, specifically for each of those individuals. Those drawing will be the placemats placed at each place setting. After the dinner is completed and the dishes are cleared, the little boy gets to explain what each drawing means to the person he drew it for.
GIVE YOUR CHILD A CHOICE. Demanding a child to do something immediately doesn’t work in this modern age. It did back when we were young because it was a different time with a different style of parenting. Most of us were raised by autocratic parents who issued demands regularly and we were expected to comply. So instead of issuing commands to your child, give them a choice related to completing the task. Instead of saying, “Go brush your teeth!”, say, “Would you like me to brush your teeth or would you like to do it yourself?”