Children need to belong and to feel accepted. To do this, they may use positive behavior or misbehavior. Children may use misbehavior when it gets them closer to their desired outcome than positive behavior.
How should a parent respond to misbehavior?
There is space between the misbehavior and your response. In that space, you have a choice. You can choose to:
- Walk away and calm down - Pause.
- Tell your child that there will be a consequence. Then take some time to calm down and think about possible consequences. Who says you have to decide at that moment?
- Tell your child how the situation made you feel - Effective Communication.
- Have a discussion about the natural or logical consequences of their choices - Collaborative Problem Solving.
Effective Communication and Conversation Starters
Communication can be verbal and nonverbal. Communication is 30% verbal and 70% nonverbal. Use the conversation starters below to practice reflective listening with your child.
- What I hear you saying is ______________________.
- It sounds like _______________________________.
- It looks like _________________________________
- I can see that _______________________________.
- I am confused. On one hand ______________ but on the other hand ______________. Help me to understand.
What is nonverbal communication?
Body position, Body language, Volume of voice, Tone of voice, Cadence - speed of speech, Facial expressions, Proximity - how close are you to the child?
Actions by the parent to avoid when misbehavior occurs
The parents' actions are critical in making a good decision regarding the misbehavior.
- Avoid impulsive actions such as arguing or yelling - getting into a power struggle with the child.
- Avoid saying hurtful things to the child to get even or to get back at the child.
- Avoid feeling sorry for the child. Do not do for the child what they can do for themselves. Communicate your belief in the child - stay positive and recognize the child’s past success.
Punishment vs. Discipline
- Punishment is about Power.
- It focuses on control.
- Sets the parent up as the bad guy.
- Teaches that power is important.
- Child learns to be submissive.
- In Latin, discipline means “to teach.” Discipline is about direction.
- Focuses on responsibility.
- Sets the parent up as the teacher.
- Teaches that self control is important.
- Child learns to be accountable.
- Consequences for misbehavior
- Adhere to the 4 R’s - Respectful, Reasonable, Related, and teaches Responsibility
- Provides a vehicle for effective communication - Collaborative problem solving between the parent and the child (Example - child does not get dessert because they chose not to eat their vegetables.)
- Consequences of the misbehavior need to be related to one another - Grounding, no television, no cell phone, no technology often catch all consequences that are unrelated to the behavior. Related Consequences teach accountablity and help the child think about their actions and the consequences of their choices.
- Creating related consequences can be difficult, but effective parenting is not easy or convenient.
- What are Reasonable consequences
- Should not be heavy handed or unrealistic.
- Should give the child the opportunity to try again so they can correct the misbehavior.
- Good rule of thumb: 10 and under - 1 to 2 days; 11-13 years old - 1 to 4 days; 14 years old and up - 1 week (Based on behavior).
- Teaching Responsibility is the goal for correcting the misbehavior
- Should help the child learn self-control and accountability.
- Teaches the child how to respond when their behavior affects others.
- Reactive versus Proactive parenting
- Reactive parenting waits until a child has crossed a boundary to get involved.
- Proactive parenting communicates boundaries (and consequences for crossing them) clearly in advance. Proactive parenting is the goal - it enhances communication and agreement on boundaries and consequences.
“Being a proactive parent means allowing your child to experience life’s challenges, but being able to recognize when he or she may need help. Being proactive means playing an active role in a child’s life and being aware of the warning signs pointing to the child’s struggles.”
Parenting Tips taken from S.T.E.P. (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) Dinkmeyer, McKay, & Dinkmeyer. If you are interested in learning more about how to use these tips to become a more effective parent, please email Maria Sherrod at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information about Fayette County’s 8 week S.T.E.P. course offered during the school year.