Your child’s behavior can be one of the toughest parts of parenting. All of the books and “experts” are great, but their solutions don’t always work in the real-life, day-to-day struggles!
When I work with parents, I always tell them that even the “best” parent can be pushed to the edge when dealing with their children’s challenging behaviors. This DOES NOT make you a bad parent, it makes you a real parent!
But the good news…you don’t have to go to the edge. Sure, there’s a lot out there on what’s best to do when dealing with your child’s challenging behavior, but today I am going to tell you the three things that won’t improve your child’s behavior and why the “easy fix” often makes things worse in the long-term.
#1: Punishment Doesn’t Work
I know, I know…this is sometimes hard for people to hear, but punishment doesn’t change behavior in the long-term. The thing with punishment is that it works really, really well as a short-term fix but it doesn’t bring about lasting change. That means you’re constantly chasing your tail.
Punishment is tempting because it often will stop the behavior immediately. The problem is that it actually ends up costing you more time and more frustration.
Not sure what to use instead? Not to worry! Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on some “quick fixes” you can use to replace punishment!
#2: Verbal Battles Don’t Work
This can be so hard when you are in the moment. Your child starts arguing and before we know it, we are knee-deep in a verbal battle that we are bound to lose. There is a time and place to have a discussion with your child, but it is unlikely to be during escalated behavior. A few things to do instead of jumping into that verbal battle are to:
- Walk away
- Positively reinforce any other kids in the house that are doing what you asked
- Positively reinforce your child any time they stop arguing…even if it’s only for a minute
- Ignore (ignore the battle, not the child)
- Change the activity or expectation (cut your losses)
Once your child is calmed down, you’ll be able to have a more reasonable discussion about the situation or behavior that took place.
#3. Drawing Attention to the Behavior Doesn’t Work
Often when a child is misbehaving, we draw attention to the behavior. By doing so we reinforce the behavior as well as create a cycle of frustration. When your child is acting out, the behavior can seem overwhelming to you and the rest of the family. Though giving the behavior minimal attention can be challenging (and not feel great), it can minimize a tough situation. A few tricks to help draw as little attention as possible to your child’s behavior are:
- Physically move away from your child (if possible)
- Change the activity to allow the rest of the family to move away from the situation
- Have the family leave the space if possible
- Reinforce your other kids for doing what you are asking or for being calm
It might not seem like the natural choice, but by eliminating the attention a child gets for bad behavior, your child will find it less appealing to choose that behavior again.
Choose Strategies That Work to Improve Your Child’s Behavior
So, what strategies SHOULD you use? I’m so glad you asked! If you are ready to start really taming your child’s behaviors, check out my Behavior Buster Toolkit! I created this for teachers but it works great for parenting through tough behaviors as well!
And, don’t forget that sharing is caring! Pass this blog post along to another parent who might be struggling with behavior this week!