Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Raise Well-Behaved Kids

t is easy to think that kids are born for just one reason – to torment their parents – especially when they start screaming and kicking over something as petty as brushing their teeth or drinking their milk. It seems like all they want to do is to make their parents miserable by behaving badly. But the truth is, your little ones are very eager to please you – it’s just not so obvious most of the time. The best way to bring out that “angelic-ness” in your kids is to bring about some radical change in the way you relate with them.

Focus on them as a whole person not just as the doer of the wrong actions. When your kids misbehave, don’t dwell on the bad things. After confronting them about the wrong things that they have done, immediately think of ways on how inappropriate behaviour can be prevented. Ask for their suggestions and tell them that they have your support. Also, try to find ways on how you can improve your relationship with them. Use your energy for thinking positive thoughts about your children and spending bonding moments with them.

Give them room to grow. Training your child to practice appropriate behaviour can be more tasking than doing things for them. But if you want them to grow, then you have to learn to let go of the reins a bit – just a bit – and allow them to make their own choices. Your kids are not robots which means that they have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Just remember that the freedom that you give them should be appropriate for their age. For example, when they’re still young, you cannot ask them to decide on whether they want to attend school or not because they’ll definitely say “no”. But you can let them choose the colour of the clothes that they want to wear or the spread that they want to put on their sandwich. The things that you ask them to decide on may seem very simple and unimportant but doing this can help them grasp the significance of making choices. This will help them understand that choices always come with either rewards or consequences allowing them to be more careful when making decisions.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t reverse the process as some parents do. Keep a tight rein on your kids when they’re younger but slowly release the controls as they grow older, not the other way around.

Remember that they have feelings just like you. Busy parents can sometimes be very selfish as they expect everyone, especially their kids, to adjust to their schedule as well as their moods. You have to admit that when you’re in a rush, you want everyone jump at your commands and do everything you say. But it’s important to see things from your children’s perspective. For example, when you wake up your child in the morning, he or she may still be very sleepy causing him or her to delay.

When you look into how your children feel about your expectations, you understand where they’re coming from when they don’t react the way you expect them to. Instead of snapping or shouting at them, acknowledge their feelings and explain why you want them to do a certain thing. Make things easy by giving them choices.

Promote cooperation not resistance. A mother tells her kids to do something but instead of obeying her right away, they grumble and say “no”. They kick, scream, cry and roll over the floor. Because this mother can’t accept this kind of behaviour, she finds herself competing with her kids. She shouts at them and drags them to make sure that they understand that she’s the boss. Is this scene familiar? Every home must’ve had its own fair share of drama.

Going on a power struggle is not a good way to handle misbehaviour. It only causes parents to become angry and kids to become rebellious. Because it’s a struggle, nobody wants to give in. Kids want to win over their parents while moms and dads want to show their kids that they’re in control.

The key is to develop self-control. Although it’s very tempting to vent out your frustration, remember that your children will emulate everything that they see you do. So if you let go of your composure, they will immediately think that it’s alright for them to go out of control as well.

Allow them to talk about what they think of your rules and expectations but try not to be judgmental. Just help them to put some words into what they’re feeling then tell them the reason why you want them to do these things. Make it clear to them that they have your support. Help them understand that you are on their side, not against them.

Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! Don’t expect your kids to remember all the rules in your home. Constantly remind them about how you want them to behave. But the key here is consistency within the whole family. For example, if mom says “no eating in front of the television” but dad says “it’s okay”, then kids will be confused and will end up eating wherever they want. This can cause a lot of frustration on the part of the parents and kids. So it’s important that the adults in a family agree on all the rules to provide consistency.

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