Raising children can provide some of the most exciting, wondrous times of your life. However, you might not feel so filled with loving wonder when your kids are going through phases that are disappointing, frustrating and challenging on several levels.
How can you effectively handle these challenging behaviours and come out on the other side feeling the love again?
Try these strategies:
- Identify the specific annoyance. Are you most annoyed by what your kids are saying or doing? Once you know exactly what it is you find irritating, you’ll be better able to address the matter successfully with your children.
- Collect your thoughts. Before talking to your kids about the issue, think about what you’ll say and jot it down. Determine a consequence for the annoying behavior.
- Discuss the behaviour during a calmer time. When you aren’t feeling annoyed, talk confidently with your kids about your concerns. You might say something like, “I don’t like it when you argue and hit each other. You must stop doing those things. From now on, when you hit or argue, you’ll be placed in time-out for 5 minutes.”
- Make your consequence fit the behavior. For instance, if your son, John, smacked his sister, Sue, grounding him for 2 weeks is a bit harsh. A more reasonable consequence might be that John must apologize to Sue and then sit in time-out to ponder his misdeed. He could also write sentences or clean Sue’s room for his actions.
- Ignore insignificant occurrences. If Jane calls Jennie a “brat,” maybe you can ignore it. After all, kids must figure out ways to problem-solve and handle annoyances on their own. Allow the kids opportunities to work it out. Simply stated, don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Prohibit physical fighting or lengthy yelling sessions. Place the kids in separate rooms for a short period of time if overly aggressive behaviors such as striking one another or yelling angrily continue. It’s best to make it very clear that these types of behaviours are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated without consequences. Afterward, be optimistic that behaviors will improve.
- Treat your children with respect. One important way that kids learn to respect each other is when they feel respect from the adults around them. Endeavor to model respect and personal strength so the kids know what it is. Avoid physical contact with your kids when you’re angry. Rather than say an angry remark you might regret later, leave the room for a few minutes. Treating your children with respect, no matter how young they are, will pay off down the road in how they respond to others throughout their life.
- Refrain from raising your voice. Instead, lower your voice to get their attention. This way, you’re likely making eye contact and having a greater impact on successfully interrupting negative behaviours.
- Give yourself a time-out. If you find yourself feeling angry toward your kids, take five minutes to collect your thoughts and de-stress. Of course, ensure your kids can be safely left alone while you’re taking your break.
- Rather than thinking about perfection, focus on progress. When you can identify positive progress in how your kids behave, you’ll be well on the way to saner, more rewarding times with your children. Use kind words and physical affection to show that you notice their improvements. Be passionate about parenting well. Nothing feels greater than receiving a sincere compliment. Your words of reinforcement for your kids’ positive behaviors should flow freely every day. Remember, your kids are counting on you to show them the way to a positive, enriching life.
When your kids are driving you crazy, employ these positive techniques to get results. They’ll learn more appropriate behaviors and you’ll live a more tranquil, rewarding existence.