Does this sound familiar?
It’s the end of a long day. You finally sit down with your spouse and the first thing out of your mouth is, “Bobby misbehaved today.” Fill in the blank with issues from your home.
The result? You both feel deflated. Bobby gets upset when reprimanded.
That leads to more tension and bitter words. Finally, it’s time to put Bobby to bed and all you can think is, “Thank goodness!”
This can become a vicious, daily cycle. Something has to give, or else things will worsen and your relationship with your child could be damaged permanently.
As a behavior consultant, here are four simple steps that make a difference:
- Focus on the positives. Think about it. Our attention makes things grow stronger. If you went to the gym and worked out your legs, what would grow stronger? Your legs. Your arms could grow weaker from being neglected — and our minds are the same. If we focus on bad behaviors, they worsen in our minds, influencing our interactions on a subconscious level. We start expecting the bad seeing it in things that aren’t really that bad. Others get discouraged and feel like all you see is the bad. Why try to do good? How long would you give your best effort at a job if you felt like your boss was frustrated with you? Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the positives at the end of the day. Tell your spouse about the happy moments and try to let the rest go. That will change your underlying feelings and, in turn, how you interact with your child. The child will sense the positive reinforcement and work to please you. Again, relate this to work. If your boss notices the good things you do, don’t you try harder to do more?
- Be confident. Our feelings about ourselves influence how others, including our kids, respond to us. Aggression won’t work. It does mean to be confident. Isn’t it easier to follow a boss who’s confident rather than unsure or micromanaging?
- Be consistent. Kids need to know the rules to follow them. If rules and expectations keep changing, it is confusing, and they will give up.
- Spend quality time together. Parenting is about our relationships with our children. The only way for those relationships to strengthen is through meaningful, positive interactions. Kids are happy with simple things as long as your focus is on the child and not distracted by work, a cell phone or other people.
These are not miracle cures, but if done consistently, they’re impactful. They can evoke dynamic changes. They can inspire children to behave positively. There’s no overnight fix — no matter how you approach it — but these helpful hints can help put your family on a better track.