misbehaviour-in-children“Was I too harsh? Was I too soft? How should I react when he misbehaves?”

Do some of these questions sound familiar to you when it comes to disciplining your children? Most of us struggle, at times, to be certain what parenting techniques to use, when to stay calm and patient throughout the disciplining process, and whether our reaction to our children was justified. While raising kids is not always simple, with a few tips and tricks, parenting can be less stressful and more fun!

The two most important insider tips are:

a) All behaviours have a meaning or message, which need to be decoded so that you can use the most effective parenting strategy

b) All behaviour is learned and, thus, unwanted behaviours can be “unlearned”

handling misbehaviour in children

So how can you start making a change today? Simple – implement the following steps:

1. Identify the unwanted behaviour. This may sound straightforward but too often parents do not actually target the specific behaviour that is causing problems in the home. Instead of thinking of the behaviour problem as “naughtyness”, figure out what behaviour you want to target precisely. Is the problem behaviour “back talk”, “biting of siblings” or “refusal to eat”, for example. Target one behaviour at a time. This will ensure that you have plenty of energy to work with your child.

2. Decide on how you will correct the unwanted behaviour and ensure that everyone in the household can stick to it.

3. Establish a consequence, which you will consistently implement to deal with the inappropriate behaviour. This consequence should be fair and should be decided on ahead of time so your child knows what to expect.

4. Stick with your plan (which every caretaker must enforce as well) for at least two-three weeks. Your child may act up more for the first few days once you implement this new routine. This behaviour is common and is a way for the child to test your will (and therefore your new parenting technique). It is therefore very important that you do not break this new routine until you see results. If you do, your child will remember that all he needs to do is rebel long enough and mommy/daddy will give up.

vanessa von auerDr. Vanessa von Auer
Clinical Psychologist, VA Psychology Center

Vanessa von Auer is the Clinic Director/Psychologist of Von Auer Psychology Centre VAPC. She has spent her career helping parents learn effective parenting strategies, has helped children process their emotional difficulties in healthy ways and has helped families grower closer in their dynamics with one another.

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