So your little angel isn’t behaving so angelic? Good ways to handle bad behaviour

You’re not alone! This is the first blog in a little series I’m doing with the lovely Marlene Roy, on Behaviour Management. Marlene is my own personal child expert! She has over 35 years in the childcare industry, is childhood education and behaviourally qualified and is an expert in baby sleep and settling (if you’ve been blessed with one of Marlene’s Home Visits, you’ll know what I mean!).

Being a parent is both rewarding and challenging, and we’ve all had times when our child behaves in a way we think is inappropriate, and that can be hard to deal with – how many times has your child thrown a tanty in the supermarket and you find other customers watching you….curious as to what you might do about it? Well I’ve been there…as I’m sure most of us have! All children will test out limits and try different behaviours – looking to see works and what doesn’t work; trying to make us respond and to see where our boundaries lie. The challenge for us as parents is to learn how to respond to these behaviours to keep the bad ones at a minimum!

(I’m sure you’re thinking right now…easier said than done! Hang on…keep reading….)

Let’s talk mind mechanics for a second. On a psychological level all children have a NEED to belong…they need to feel noticed and accepted. CHILDREN OFTEN MISBEHAVE TO GET THE ATTENTION THEY CRAVE, because on a psychological level getting is trouble IS getting attention. So what can we do if our little precious is acting up, causing trouble, just to get attention? POSITIVITY – focus on their good behaviours, acknowledge them when they are behaving well, when they are co operating or helping. A good tip here is to use language of ENCOURAGEMENT rather than PRAISE, as it has a more positive long term effect. For example when child has been playing quietly with his little brother you might say “Jamie it looks like you’re enjoying showing Sam how to use the Lego. Thankyou for being so gentle with him” rather than simply saying “Good boy Jamie” – be specific, be positive and direct, and detail what behaviour you’re happy with – that way “Jamie’ will know what you liked and will (hopefully) try to do it again in the future.

Now lets face it, it is unrealistic to expect that we, as parents, can react the RIGHT way every time. But we all do the best we can and that’s the important thing…that we try to encourage, support and direct good behaviour.   Not only for ourselves and our own sanity – but we’re shaping little citizens here, that will one day go out into the world and who wants to be the parent of the delinquent trouble maker??? It’s hard to be a friend of a defiant or uncooperative child, but the time when a child is being most difficult is the time when they are in most need of  understanding.

Trying to diffuse their frustration, encourage their good behaviours and praise with love will go a long way to not only helping good behaviour form, but also help to foster a long term positive relationship.  Humour is also good to lift the stress of a situation – but always remember, there’s nothing wrong with walking away if you have to. Even today Mr 2.5 was being so challenging I got to a point where I had to leave the room … so I left Daddy in charge and sat on my bed with a book for 10mins….I needed downtime, so I took it.

So in a nutshell Marlene’s points for combatting bad behaviour

  1. Learn which situations to react to – we can’t win every battle, and honestly who wants to spend much of every day arguing with a child – so choosing the more important situations and behaviours and letting “smaller indescretions” fly under the radar, can make life easier for everyone
  2. Remember WHY children can misbehave, some are craving attention. We have so many things to fit in each day that sometimes it’s easy to forget to add the “quality” into the “time” we spend with our kids
  3. Encouraging good behaviors leads to repeated good behavior …and remember, don’t berate yourself when you slip up!  There may be times where you can’t help yourself and find yourself  getting angry, even before you realise you’re doing it probably…don’t worry, kids for the most part are resilient little things and also quite forgiving.  There will be plenty more chances to practice good techniques!

Huge thanks to Marlene for her input and support with this article, and I look forward to bringing you more pearls of her wisdom on the Living Eco Blog!  ~ Cass from www.livingeco.com.au

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children ~ Elaine Heffner

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