Anyone still waiting for the handbook on how to raise children?? I mean, literally, a book that comes out during the delivery that breaks down the personality traits and most effective intervention for this child. If you got it, please raise your hand…
Ok, so no one got it.
The world has painted parenthood to be this experience where you know exactly what to do for your child, and this perfect little angel is produced, and you spend your whole life just cuddling them and getting sweet kisses. WRONG!
This is part of it, but what about the other side of it? No one ever really talks about the other things that come with parenting. Things like you are in the supermarket and your cute, adorable child grabs something they shouldn’t have and you say no and tell them to return said item to the shelf while the three other customers in the same aisle are eyeing you to see how you plan on handling this one. So you automatically say a quiet prayer in hopes that just this once your child will just comply with what you ask them to do.
But of course not. Your child responds with a firm No and goes into full tantrum mode. The worst part is IT APPEARS as if everyone in the supermarket turns around and looks at you like you are the worst parent in the world (your own thinking; we will address that in another post).
Now you have two options: you either ignore your child and the strangers and keep shopping or run out the store with your child without anything on your grocery list.
At this point, just runnnnnnnn!!!! Sometimes you feel as if these moments occur more frequently. You can't quite understand it because your child is way past the terrible twos stage that everyone warned you about. You have teachers calling home almost every day, you find yourself yelling more at home and you have fewer people willing to watch your child. You go to family events and relatives are judging you for the lack of "control" you appear to have over your child.
That’s the worst part, because you can feel as if you have no one to turn to. You may have decided to go against some of the ways you were raised, and now everyone feels as if you are failing MISERABLY and they have a front seat at what you are doing wrong. Since the handbook did not come attached to the child, you are left to fend for yourself. Lucky for you, I have a few tips. 1. Reinforcing the positive: If your child does something right, say something positive about it. Acknowledge it. How good does it feel to you when your boss tells you that you did a good job at work in handling the challenging customer? You feel seen, heard, and it makes you want to continue to do better at your job.
I like to call this "catch them doing something good". If all I hear is no, don't do that, why aren't you listening, go to time out, no tablet time, give me the phone etc, it becomes somewhat ingrained in me. This is not to say you should never say anything negative to your child.
As human beings, negative talk seems to be louder, and it stays with us. A child may begin to only hear those negative things you say and nothing else.
An example of positive reinforcement: Your shy 6 year old child raises their hand during remote learning and gets the answer right. Once you make sure the computer is back on mute, high five your kid, tell them they did a great job and maybe do a silly dance. Your response will motivate them to do it again. Not only did they get the praise but they also like the silly dance moves.
2 - Consistency - Follow through on what you said would happen every single time you notice the behavior. Don't make empty promises.
Suppose you tell your child that you are going to take away the phone if they don't finish their school work. School work does not get done. You come home and decide to let it slide. Guess what? They knew you were going to let it slide; this is why they did not complete the work.
The only consistency you are showing is how to consistently not follow through.
Follow through, guys. It is a pain in the butt for you but after they are done testing you and see you follow through, the unwanted behavior will decrease immensely.
I have to also add they will need to see new patterns of behavior from you. Small disclaimer: expect to see a lot of testing for at least a month. I know right now parents are being stretched to the limit. Some of the outlets you and your kids had have been deemed as a potential health hazard, so we are limited. Outlets such as sports, going to indoor parks or visiting close family and friends can be hazardous to our health. Do not allow those limitations to make you feel helpless. Start off with small changes in behaviors you want to address.
Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't feel like you are being effective or it does not work right away. Take a step back and review these tips, and see what adjustments you can make. Also, keep in mind you need at least 4 weeks before you start to see changes in your child. Despite what many may believe, parenting is not a one size fits all thing. That means every child has a different personality and will react to things differently. While you may have some common ground rules for everyone in the house, what motivates one child will not motivate another. Make sure you keep this in mind. They are people too, and you cannot take a one size fits all approach.