We have all had on some level, those tear my hair out moments when it comes to dealing with challenging behavior in our kids. Some days it seems like they will never end. What we don’t always realize is that we as parents are contributing to those moments with our own personal behaviors. Today I want to share with you some tips on how to improve those moments and help bring your home to a more blissful state of being.
As parents, we want to get to a place where we respond rather than react to challenging behavior. We need to stop getting caught up in our child’s tornado of emotions. Instead, we should be taking a step back and calming ourselves first. Think of when you are on an airplane and they tell you in the case of an emergency, to put on your mask before your child’s. Much like that, we need to take the time to breathe first and disengage as much as we can from the situation at hand.
You are probably thinking, “This isn’t me. I can’t do that”.
I agree this method will take some practice for a lot of us. One parent in the home may even already have it down and while the other feels the daily struggle. Don’t be discouraged if the latter is you. Instead start simply by being conscious and aware of the need to change your frame of mind when emotions are heightened in the children. Becoming aware will make room for the next step which is to pause and breathe before speaking. Once we manage to implement this step, even if it’s only a baby step at first, we will find that we are so much better at dealing with a situation in a calmer fashion. This will not only help us to see the situation more clearly but our children will de-escalate that much faster.
Remember that whatever behavior your children are demonstrating, or feeling they are acting out, it is not about you, so don’t take it personally. Kids are not born with an automatic internal filter control. This is something that with guidance and patience from you they will begin to develop over time. For now, they think it or feel it and they blurt it or act it out, nothing more and nothing less. It is their way of attempting to have their needs met. This is where staying calm on your part and taking your moment to breathe will put you in a good position for deciphering the meaning behind the challenging behavior.
Tip #2 – Set Clear Limits And Enforce Them Consistently –
Kids need to know that you mean what you say. By this I mean as parents we need to set extremely clear limits. If you waffle on limits, you are continually going to be challenged as children love to test how far they can push past the boundary.
This does not mean you have to set yourself up with a long list of rules that need to be followed. Rather I would suggest that you and your partner decide on what is non-negotiable in your home. What standards of behavior are high on your list of importance? These will then become your baseline for behavior. Some of these rules you will know right off the bat. Others will come as you move through the different stages of parenting. What seemed necessary for a child when they were 5 may not necessarily be what is needed when they are 12. As parents, we will need to recognize this fact and change our rules accordingly.
– Extended Family – Once you have an idea of what your expectations are you will need to ensure that anyone who has your children in their care is aware of these standards. This will do away with any confusion on the part of the child and eliminate stress between both parties.
Including everyone that regularly surrounds your child in on the expectations helps to show them that someone cares for and loves them. Sometimes when we are so deep into the war zone it can be tough to show the love that we really do have for our children. Our frustrations tend to overwhelm us and we forget that our children are just that, children. They are little people who are navigating this big, wide world of emotion and growth minus the access to fully working instruments and navigation tools. This means regardless of how we are feeling, we need to leave room in our days to remember the love we feel for our little ones. You may not always like the challenging behavior they present to you but they need to know you love them regardless of where they are at. Even in those whirlwind moments.
Take The Time To Have Fun –
Showing love needs to be more than just the saying of the words. Take the time to do activities together. Time and effort are the focus here so don’t worry so much about what you choose to do with each other. Spending quality time that is filled with warmth and enthusiasm is crucial to your children’s personal development. Doing this even when you don’t feel like it is love in action.
Many times a challenging behavior will present itself because our children are not feeling heard. They don’t feel like we care about their thoughts or feelings. However, this is easily remedied by validating our children and how they are feeling by simply listening to them. In listening to them we are creating opportunities for bonding while nourishing their problem-solving skills as well. These types of scenarios where you are truly listening and interacting with your child will pave the way for more positive moments in the future and remove one more area for challenging behavior to thrive.
– Listen Without Teaching –
To truly listen to our children we need to be doing only that; listening. We shouldn’t interrupt them or try to turn it into a teachable moment. There are many moments available to us for teaching but right here in this listening moment, it needs to be about them.
What does your child want to say?
How are they feeling?
Are they verbally able to express those feelings?
What are they trying to share with you about themselves or their experiences?
These sit back and listen moments may surprise you.
– Parent The Child You Have –
When we are expecting our babies we all hope to have these wonderful, well-adjusted children but there are many things that can affect that once the child arrives. We need to understand that sometimes what we envisioned as parents is not where we end up. It is important to know this fact and be alright with that. It means that we may need to learn new and quite possibly some very different skills. Skills that can move us forward on a successful parenting path.
Challenging behavior in children requires special parenting approaches that can be learned. For example, you may know how to cook a gourmet meal, repair a car or paint a house because over the years you have learned the necessary skills to do so. Just as with those skills parenting also takes time to learn and will, in turn, adjust from child to child. Closing our eyes metaphorically speaking and hoping that things will improve on their own is a waste of time. In fact, it could quite possibly make things worse for the child in the long run. If we don’t know how to do something we should seek out someone that does. Outside input and advice can be of help when looking to make serious changes.
The journey of parenting will have many ups and downs and the route will vary from child to child. It doesn’t help us to parent the child we wish we had. We have to parent the child that we have. Our job as parents is to teach our children over the time we have with them. Remember that no one parent is perfect. We will not get it right all the time but we can find support when and where we need it.