How to React and Respond to Your Child's Behaviour
Parenting can often feel like an uphill struggle, or that you are taking two steps forward and three steps backwards! This is particularly true if you have children with challenging behaviour that tries your patience and tolerance to its outer limits on a daily basis.
However, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone and every parent struggles from time to time to deal with the daily challenges that family life throws at them. When it comes to your child’s behaviour it is vital to remember that you have to respond to both good and bad situations and you must make every effort to be as consistent as possible, otherwise your child will suffer and so will you because the messages will be mixed and unclear.
Reward Positive BehaviourAll too often parents are quick to discipline a child and jump on any bad behaviour and yet good and positive behaviour can go almost unnoticed-particularly when it comes to older children. This is because as our children grow into mature young people, we have very high expectations of them and their behaviour. We simply expect them to behave well, work hard at school, get good grades and be kind to all their friends.
A child who is well known for being good at sport may not get the amount of praise that they deserve, because this has become accepted and known behaviour that is very familiar to those close to them.
It is important to remember that all children of all ages demonstrate good and bad or positive and negative or easy or challenging behaviour and as parents we are duty bound to react and respond in an appropriate manner.
Very young children receive considerable praise for all their efforts. From simple things such as eating their dinner, sharing their toys with others and saying please and thank you, to learning how to use a toilet, sleeping in their own bed (all night!) and learning how to brush their teeth, these are all activities that generate instant praise, and rightly so as they are very important stepping stones in a young child’s development. When they hit other children, have temper tantrums and refuse to eat their breakfast on the other hand, they are duly disciplined and it is made clear that this is NOT acceptable behaviour.
Older children however will often receive a different reaction and response to their behaviour. Whilst achievement and positivity is rewarded-such as doing well at school, taking part in a dramatic or musical performance and so on, negative behaviour such as staying out too late on a school night, refusing to do their homework and getting into trouble for disrupting their class at school often receives more attention because it is, by its very nature, more dramatic and noticeable.
It is also expected that by a certain age our children will behave appropriately for almost all the time, therefore when they do not, we are shocked and our reaction and response to their behaviour is equally dramatic.
Have Clear BoundariesThe important lesson to learn is that if an assertive-democratic or authoritative parenting style is adopted from an early age, we will naturally and regularly monitor our child’s behaviour and hopefully have the right mindset to still praise our children for their achievements-no matter how old or grown up they are.
We all need our boundaries to ensure good behaviour, but we also need to be feel included and that we make valuable contributions to our communities-be they at school or home. It is as important to recognise, value and validate positive behaviour, as it is to set clear guidelines to prevent and deal with negative behaviour.