As anger and anxiety are contagious so is a calm atmosphere. If you as a parent are emotionally reactive then you are setting the stage for the child to be as well. However when you are in control and calm, the child can feel soothed and relax too. By doing this you are taking away the tug-rope so there is no more pulling and tugging for them to do.
By doing this you are also teaching the child how to de-escalate and learn to control and soothe himself/herself in other future tense moments when they might feel nervous, anxious, or agitated. Remember it is ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ for children. They learn by imitation so do what you want them to do.
So firstly, instead of trying to ‘manage the child’s behaviour’ (which ultimately puts them in control and allows them to think that you can’t handle yourself), you need to ultimately gain control of the situation. The child may be driving you crazy by either; ignoring, back-talking or tantrum episodes. In either case, you must keep your cool so that you have the upper hand. The upper hand does NOT constitute yelling or smacking. I will show you how…read on…
Secondly, you must realize that when your child acts up they are winding you up to see what buttons they can push. They are determining their boundaries and yours as a parent. This gives them a feeling of independence which in a sense is a good thing. When this happens you may feel as though you are not doing a good job. On a subconscious level you feel upset or anxious so inadvertently you lash out verbally instead of taking control. Also the child may be trying to get your attention. While you may feel that you are, this may only be disciplinary and necessary caregiving as opposed to what they would like from you. See if maybe you can offer some other form of attention by interacting with him/her in an activity of their choice. This may take the edge off a little. In future, you can ask them to nicely ask you next time rather than act- up.
Thirdly, know that sometimes your child is frustrated by a problem that they can’t deal with however even though they need to solve their own problems, you may need to assist them. Ask them to discuss the issue with you calmly and then work together to find a solution.
Fourthly, you may notice patterns arise. For instance after school every day your child starts a stubborn attitude towards you. This could indicate to you that something happens at school each day. So be ready for the uncomfortable confrontation from your child and plan ahead. You can make after school snack time a 10 minute ‘nag’ break where both you and your child get some negative things off your chest by talking. This will bond the two of you in more ways than one. It will also show the child that he/she can come to you with any problem for any reason. In turn all you have to do is listen as your child does when you tell him/her about your day. Just as you don’t expect a solution or judgement, you reciprocate by also not extending any solution or judgement. When your child trusts you; you can trust your child to come to you. You must not under any circumstance go to the school for them unless they ask you too.
Fifth, this relationship that you have built from what I have mentioned above will bond you for life. As your child becomes an adolescent he/she will need you more than ever. If you can establish a trust and mutual respect early enough in your parenting life, you are just making it easier for your entire family unit. Your child will always have a friend in you. If you are worried about losing authority over them, know this, you will have more authority now you have showed them diplomatically how to approach a situation as a grown up. When you yell and scream or smack a child you are in fact doing what a child does when they don’t get their way. There will be times when you have to avert back to leader by stating, ‘however as your parent I feel that handling your problem this way might be better because….what do you think?’ Let them give their input, that is how they grow and learn.
This being said, I am not disputing that a child should not be punished. There will be cases when a punishing a child is necessary. The approach of discipline is important as is maintaining your level of authority in their eyes. Here’s how…let the punishment always fit the crime this is how it will make sense for growth and not feel like you are trying to enforce power over them. Also, once you hand out the punishment; stick to it. If you don’t they will know that they can sway you into changing your mind. You need your child to believe that you mean business. Because of this think about the punishment you want to give before blurting it out.
Sometimes the form of discipline doesn’t take on the form of a punishment. In this situation you would send the child to their room to think about what they have done. Let him/her know that in 5 minutes you will be asking them what they think that they did wrong. In 5 minutes go ask him/her to explain it to you. This will give them some power to be grown up.
If they do know, then ask him/her how they can fix this. Help them a little. You will both feel happy in the end and see that he/she follows through with this idea to rectify the problem.
If they don’t know what they did wrong, then calmly explain and then ask them what they can do to fix this. Again help them a little and see that they follow through.
By doing this method, they are growing up with respect and discipline and they will love you even more when they grow up and think back to how kind and understanding you were.
Just a couple more very important tips to ensure you raise your child in a happy home:
Don’t insult your child scars last forever!
Try not to argue with your spouse in front of your child because remember ‘monkey-see monkey-do!’
Please contact me if you are having an issue with your child and you want some feedback. As parents we all need support from time-to-time. Parenting after all can be the most difficult thing to do in this world because we are in charge of another human being other than ourselves and so we want to do our best (without an instructional guide) LOL.