I am sure that most parents will agree that on occasion (or sometimes more often) your child's behaviour can drive you insane and push you to the limit. When you think it can't get any worse - it does! The way we handle this is important for both ourselves as parents', and also for the child too.
I wouldn't say that my children are very bad or naughty, but they are what I would call 'testing' - they test me. I remember that advert from just a few years ago in which a child starts going mental in the supermarket because they want something so the mother lays on the floor kicking and screaming, and the child stands up in amazement whilst the parent is still on the floor pretend tantrum-ing. Oh how I aspire to be that mother - but I have never built up the courage to do this. I secretly wonder how my children would behave in the supermarket if I did this, haha!
I want to share with you my top five ways/steps of handling challenging behaviour. You may find it inspiring, or you may think that I am stating the obvious, or you might even think that it's rubbish and your own methods work better - and that is absolutely fine as I don't expect everything I say to be seen as 'words of wisdom' but as this is family fortnight I just wanted to share how I survive a commonality that most of us experience in our time as a parent.
#1 Stay Calm
I have been at my wits end but I always stay calm and it always works. I was only 21 years old when I had my eldest child and I suppose I was inexperienced but it didn't take me long to realise that getting stressed and even agitated makes the situation worse when children are behaving in a challenging way. Everyone can be a little snappy and even shout but it's more effective to keep calm - keeping a low, firm tone.
2# Don't Shout
Oh, yes, I admit it, I have shouted at my children. I have also noticed that it doesn't work. I suppose this links on from the first point as you don't shout if you are calm. When I shout at my children they don't listen to me, it's like they shut off and think 'my Mum is shouting at me' and they become that upset at the fact that I am shouting at them that they ignore the reason behind it. I always tell children (in that low, firm voice) why they are being unreasonable and that there are consequences if they don't stop.
3# Have a Consequence and Stick to it!
My consequence for challenging behaviour is like Super nanny suggests - a minute for each year of age in a time out area. We use the stairs. I have a three year old who does 3 minutes, a seven year old (almost 8) that does 7 minutes (soon to be 8 minutes, haha), and a ten year old that does 10 minutes. They hate it, but they know it happens. They don't have a consequence for silly things, they have a consequence when they behave in a challenging way that they have been warned about so be careful not to use your timeout as an excuse, make sure you are consistent. If you put the child on the stairs for anything - then the stairs will no longer be a punishment as it will be integrated into their daily life. Only use it when the warnings don't work. If I am out and about, I stop what I am doing and explain to my child that I can't do what you are doing until they stop.
4# Ignore it and reward it!
Okay, this point of mine is difficult and I suppose I had to train myself to do this but it's important to ignore some behaviour. For instance if you put your child on a timeout and they cry and stand up, this is normal when you first initiate a consequence so ignore some challenging behaviour, but reward the good behaviour. I always explain what I expect - so if I go out, I tell them - I expect you to hold hands on the way to the park and walk sensibly, no running. If you do, you will get an ice lolly but if not, we'll come straight home. My youngest is going through a moaning phase and I tolerate/ignore it to a certain extent, then I tell him that I am not happy with the moaning, If he doesn't moan, I tell him, well done for not moaning today and I reward him with attention.
#5 Be Positive
My final point is that negativeness can spread and it can bring everyone down. Once you have dealt with the behaviour I always feel it's important to become positive. It's a pet hate of mine when I hear people going on and on about how their children were badly behaved yesterday or earlier, and yet they keep bringing it up - I find myself wanting to say these are kids man, what's your excuse? Surely people don't hold a grudge against children! Going on and on about something is not good for your own state of mind, I know I don't want to keep reliving the same negative event or experience. Children are precious, so after my children have had their time out I always tell them I love them and give them a hug - because it's true.
I was thinking the other day that I don't always tell the people I love, that I love them enough, but my children will know that I do. It's my job as a parent to guide them, and to try my best to teach them and put them on the right path in life. I've never been as dedicated to anything as much as I am dedicated to give them the right start in life and teaching them right from wrong is tough but I don't want them to think they can do anything and get away with it because as they got older this would escalate. I raise them to be respectful, polite and to do what's right! There's a lot at stake here so I hope I get it right!
Comment and let me know how you deal with your child's challenging behaviour in a positive way? I would love to know, and I have just shared what I do so it would be great to hear what you do as I am always open to suggestions :)
What are your hopes for your child? How do we know if we are being a good parent?