When will they learn to behave?
Is this the normal scenario in your house?”I’ll give you all 15 minutes before I check your rooms,” she says. No response.”Then if you’re not done, no TV for the rest of the week!” So it goes.Their rooms are skillfully decorated with random piles of clothing, books and toys strewn across the bed and floor, sheets of school papers and unmatched dirty socks scattered about. Within 15 minutes, three heads come popping out of rooms and bodies emerge like phantoms in the family room.”Mom, I cleaned up my room. Can I see my favorite show? You promised.””Mom, I cleaned it up, but it took me so long that I couldn’t do my homework.” “Mom, Joey left his junk on my floor, that’s why I couldn’t clean up my room.””Can we watch, please; it’s our favorite show?”Mom submits and agrees. So it goes.Mom has given in again and the kids have learned that the louder the chorus the easier it is to manipulate her.John C. Friel, Ph.D., author of “The Seven Worst Things Parent Do,” says inconsistent communication between parent and child can result in damaging mixed messages and misbehavior:- Threatening kids with exaggerated and unrealistic consequences of their behavior will often result in a parent giving in and reneging on the threat. If you threaten and don’t deliver, you will be the loser because bad behavior will only escalate.- Parents need to rethink their rules, cut back to the essentials and enforce those rules consistently. Discuss them with your children and ask them for their suggestions as to how to apply those rules with consistency. Listen to their gripes. Teddy may be right, if Joey makes a mess on his bedroom floor should he be required to clean it up?- Set up a schedule and abide by it. If kids know what to expect and when to expect it, they are far more likely to abide by the rules. The develop a habit of understanding when their rooms must be cleaned up, when they must bring their laundry down, when they must set the table, do the dishes and run the vacuum cleaner.- Never show the kids that Mom and Dad disagree on their handling of discipline. When one parent sabotages the actions of another, no one wins. Parents become distracted and detoured from their message. They argue among themselves rather than demanding appropriate behavior from their kids. If you disagree with your spouse, save the discussion for another time, when your misbehaving child isn’t around.- Temper tantrums may be appropriate for 2-year-olds, but when adults hold a grudge against each other or their children that may be the adult form of a tantrum. Giving your young kids the silent treatment and the cold shoulder does not resolve the issues between you and your child.- Try not to label your kids. Kids remember the cruel words that are said and may assume that they will carry that label throughout life. It denigrates their self worth and creates a long-term image or self-fulfilling prophesy.- Parental preaching only results in turning kids off. State your displeasure and give your child concrete reasons why you are disappointed in their behavior. Be clear about the consequences and then stop talking. Beware the results of violating your rules of behavior yourself. Kids can detect your hypocrisy and you are a constant role model for your kids.- Don’t confuse punishment with discipline. Punishment will stop the negative behavior immediately while discipline is a positive way of teaching constructive behavior. When your child is rude and speaks back to you, the use of punishment may curb her tongue, but discipline means teaching her an alternative way of responding that is respectful.- Set reasonable expectations for your child’s behavior. Children alter their behavior in small baby steps. Bad habits are slow to die and they will only be eradicated when replaced with good habits and a stronger sense of self. Kevin Steede, Ph.D, a psychologist, reminds us that children are not their parent’s personal project. Each child is unique, maturing at his own rate and in his own way.”Nourish your children at their own speed, and above all savor the journey,” he says.For more information contact Helen Ginandes Weiss M.A & Martin S. Weiss M.A., Learning Consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, CO, 81251, or 1-719-486-5800.