Children are constantly developing new likes and dislikes, ideas and feelings. Along with amazing growth and independence, children can also experience frustration and anger, and seem defiant and stubborn.
But through these experiences and emotions, children learn persistence and determination! As a parent, you can guide your child to help them become independent, learn self-control, and gain self-confidence.
Managing a child’s challenging behaviors
Managing challenging behaviors means setting clear limits or rules with your child that you firmly, consistently and lovingly carry out.
This can help you be calm and clear about your expectations. It helps children understand that their actions and behaviors have consequences that are predictable and caring, even if you child doesn’t always see it as caring in the moment.
Managing your child’s misbehavior helps your child feel safe, secure and loved. It shows your child you respect them. It builds self-confidence because you are teaching them you believe they are capable of meeting your expectations. With time, they will learn to feel good about meeting their own expectations.
The basics of managing misbehavior
Don’t over do it with the rules:
For your young child, having perhaps 3 to 5 rules is enough.
Consider which rules are important to you. These could include: no jumping on the furniture; no hitting, using kind words, no video games until chores are done, etc.
It’s important that you remain consistent day-to-day with your rules. If on Monday, you ask your child to not jump on the furniture. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, you see your child jump on the couch without saying anything. On Thursday, it will be hard for your child to understand that not jumping on the furniture important all the time.
Be clear, simple and age appropriate:
Your rules should always be easy to follow, and reflect the age and stage of your child.
When possible, say what your child can do, not what they can’t do:
Try to frame your rule in the positive. For example, “You can jump on the trampoline outside,” rather than “Don’t jump on the couch.”
Be calm and firm:
Your voice, and even your facial expressions, should be calm, yet firm. Shouting can make your child think there is a problem, rather than a logical rule to follow.
Sometimes children need a moment to process a request from you. Give them time to respond without getting short tempered.
Applaud positive behavior:
Make a big deal about your child following the rules—especially if they do so independently: “Yay! You stopped yourself from jumping on the couch and went on the trampoline.”
Be a good role model:
If your child sees you or an older sibling modeling the rules of the home, they’ll get the picture. They might be eager to be just like mommy or imitate big brother.
Keep your approach positive:
Start by setting a few age appropriate rules for your toddler. And when your child doesn’t follow the rules (and testing rules is a normal developmental step), follow through with natural or logical consequences that fit the situation.
With some guidance, you’ll find your child will gain confidence and self-control and you’ll rest calmer and easier at the end of the day.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).