Getting annoyed or reacting emotionally when a child or teenager is being difficult actually makes things worse in the long run because many youngsters will aim for any attention, even if it’s negative, and the attention of a good ‘telling off’ strengthens unwanted behaviours. So parents may want to bear the next 5 tips in mind if they frequently deal with troublesome behaviour:
- Plan your responses to bad behaviour before it actually happens so you don’t over-react. As you prepare, run a movie in your head, with you starring in the leading role, dealing calmly with a series of issues, holding firm on your boundaries and calmly following through on consequences which aren’t too severe.
- Tell yourself that he or she is just a child testing the boundaries. This is a natural phenomenon as he/she tries to meet her need for independence. The brains of youngsters right through school, and beyond, are not fully developed and certainly aren’t in fully rational, logical mode. Children can be taught how to behave well as they are taught other skills. We don’t teach children to read, ride a bike or do maths problems by nagging, shouting, getting annoyed or upset. Make yourself into a mentor or teacher, be a good role model and protect the long-term relationship
- Stay mindful—as you deal with the difficult behaviour, watch your thoughts and behaviour, imagine you are observing the situation from above and try to calmly assess whether you are sticking to your plan or ‘movie script’
- Have a protective layer- rather like a counsellor dealing with an unpleasant situation-avoid ‘absorbing’ his/her emotional outburst and making it your own problem – many behaviour incidents in school age children are due to a build-up of stress anyway and have little to do with parents
- Think to yourself that you will let off steam later when your child is out of the way—but for now you are going to remain focused and calm