BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
Clear Boundaries Help Raise Good Kids
If you have clear expectations (or boundaries) and model respectful behaviour yourself, your chances of having children who are respectful are greater. You could:
Develop a clear dialogue about your expectations for behaviour, emphasizing treating people, property and our earth with respect. Reinforce from a young age by explaining what words like: kind, thoughtful, honest, responsible, etc mean and provide examples to help children understand what is expected.
For example: Teaching simple rules like using an 'inside voice' (inside) and using 'walking feet' (inside) makes your home a more tranquil place. But it also translates to your child knowing for example: not to run around in a supermarket shrieking and creating havoc.
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It's rare for someone to be openly critical of a child's poor behaviour to their parent. What usually happens instead is social exclusion. The child won't be invited to play or to go to special events like birthday parties. The child's parent may also see their social circle become smaller as other parents learn of the child's behavioural issues. (This exclusion can happen very swiftly if the child hurts others.) A young child can be relegated to social purgatory and sometimes the parents can end up right there with him or her. And this can be really hurtful for both children and parents alike.
So how can you help raise good kids that others want to be around?
Ensure bad behaviour doesn't work for your child. Tantrums and screaming can be best managed if you don't engage.
For example: During difficult times with young children use phrases like: 'Would you like ... (this) or ... (that)? (Offer a choice they can point to.) If they're already talking try something like 'Use your words please,' (rather than scream or cry.) 'I'd like to help you but I can't understand you at the moment. Was it ... or ... ? Can you please tell me, then I can help you?' (Even a single word gives you a clue whereas screaming/crying doesn't.) If they make an effort to communicate with you say something like 'That's fantastic. Now I know exactly what you want because you used your words. Let's go and get it now." (Reward for doing the right thing... Problem solved.)
Explain you may not be able to give your children everything they want, or let them do everything they want to do, but you'll do everything you can to be the best parent you can be for them... And be the best parent you can be.
Explain that it's your job to protect their childhood. That it's not good for them to have everything they want all at once. They need to be able to look forward to some things as they get older rather than get everything when they're young. For example: If they're allowed to go to unsupervised parties at fourteen or fifteen, where people are drinking alcohol, they're likely at increased risk. And to compound it, if they're able to do so, what age-related privileges are left at 18?
Postpone making a decision if you're angry. Similarly if you're feeling cross or frustrated disciplining your child may be more appropriate when you've calmed down. Don't get into an argument or power play.
You could say something like: 'I don't feel I'm in a frame of mind to be objective at the moment. I need a bit of space to think about this. But if you're continuing to push it, the answer will be a 'No.'
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N.B. (The way your child responds gives you a clue as to whether they want a resolution or just to vent. And the way you deal with it would depend upon the age of the child concerned. ) If they're a young child who seems to want to vent and they keep going, you could try something like 'You seem a bit over-tired at the moment. How about you have a lie down,' (rather than continue to escalate a situation with a child who has lost it.) And put them to bed in their room. (You might be surprised how often they really are tired and will fall asleep... Losing it takes a lot of energy.)
If you can foresee a potential problem discuss it ahead of time so your child knows exactly what's expected of them, rather than deal with it after there's a problem when emotions are high.
For example: I took my kids to the shopping centre and said 'Be good!' They weren't. So the next time I took them I explained ahead of time exactly what 'being good' meant. This included things like: staying close enough to me, that I could reach out and touch them at all times. Holding onto my hand, or the stroller, when in the car park. Using a quiet voice. Using 'walking feet.' Not asking for things to buy explaining: 'You can pick one food you'd like to eat as long as it's not .... But if you ask for things it'll be a 'No.' Consistently using this strategy, from a young age, helps raise children that you can take out to a wider range of places.
Deal with problem behaviours when you're calm. Lower your tone of voice (deepen) rather than raise it. Become quieter. Repeat any instructions: Same tone without changing your wording. If after two attempts (three at the absolute most) it's loss of privileges.
For example: I had an issue with a child at a birthday party. We have an acre block and twenty (twelve-year-old) boys were playing 'Spotlight" in the dark. They were having a great time. But one boy kept trying to climb the seventy-foot-high Spruce even though I'd explained why it was out of bounds, twice. After his second attempt I took him aside and said, very calmly: "If you climb that tree and get stuck, or fall, you'll have ruined this party for everyone. You being here is a privilege. I'm not willing to have anyone here who's doing something dangerous. If you try to climb that tree again, you're choosing to go home. I'll phone your parents to come and get you immediately. Do you understand?'...
And after that he was well-behaved.
Give your child the benefit of the doubt where possible.
For example: They genuinely may not have meant to break something or hurt someone. If they're generally a good kid, that's the most likely scenario. But if it becomes a regular occurrence you need to look at developing behaviour strategies to deal with it.
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