I know this may seem obvious, but the the most effective way to stop misbehavior is to prevent it in the first place. I know, I know – duh right? But honestly, after you have been practicing
Positive Parenting strategies consistently for four to six weeks, I can guarantee you’ll be dealing with less disobedience and acting out. This is because the strategies in Positive Parenting are not only time and parent tested, they are well-researched and shown to be tremendously effective. If you have already developed some bad habits, be patient as you learn to implement the these strategies. You don’t have to master them all overnight.
Remember, as parents, we are not sculptors (with respect to behavior), we are gardeners (nurturing the soil of their hearts). Don’t make compliance the holy grail. Instead, make it connection with your family. When we empower kids with acceptance rather than evaluate them with approval, we show them loud and clear that we love them for who they are and not for what they do. Consequences are important, punishment doesn’t work. What’s the difference you ask? You can read about that here.
There’s a very important distinction we need to make between stopping misbehavior when it’s happening and taking action to prevent and minimize future misbehavior. Because we are so preoccupied with misbehavior when it is happening, we are often reacting in the heat of the moment and not really thinking about what we are trying to achieve in the long term.
First, this part of the series looks at what doesn’t work to help our children stop misbehaving right now and why.
- Yelling Or Using Angry Tones of Voice. Yelling intensifies an already negative situation. Nobody responds joyfully to being yelled at, and it often engenders deep shame and our children treat them with the disrespect that we ourselves would never tolerate.
- Ignoring The Behavior, or Giving In: Many families think the best way to handle negative peer or negative attention seeking is to ignore it. If you don’t reinforce it, they’ll eventually give up, right? Wrong. Actually, ignoring a child only exacerbates their behavior. That’s because kids can’t stand to be ignored. Some attention is better than no attention in their way of seeing things. Further, after finally trying to ignore it, you throw up your hands and give in. Pure exasperation is now at the helm, and at this point you’ll do anything to make it stop. When children are allowed to push limits and see that limits are inconsistently reinforced, they learn to continue to push. When we don’t follow through consistently, we only invite more of the same.
- Repeating, Explaining, Bribing and Threatening: these behaviors undermine your authority, teach kids they don’t have to comply until the threat star, train kids to manipulate by asking why, and believing they always need a reward in order to obey.
- Arguing and Negotiating: This teaches your children to use diversionary tactics. When kids asked why they have to obey you, it is rarely a genuine request for information. There merely stalling most of the time. If you think they really want to know, tell them you’ll explain it to them after they’ve followed your direction. Most likely they won’t really need an explanation.
In the next part, I’ll explain some very effective strategies on what does work best to curb misbehavior most of the time. You can read about that HERE.