Raising a child is a difficult undertaking for any parent, but having a child who exhibits challenging behaviors can be downright exhausting. Whether your child is prone to tantrums, refuses to eat, or has public meltdowns, many parents know how tough it can be when a child acts out.
A reality that parents face is that all kids can be a handful at one time or another, even in the best of circumstances. So, how do you handle a child who frequently exhibits difficult to manage behaviors? What is the best way to respond when your little one isn’t on his or her best behavior? With the right approach, handling a child with behavioral difficulties is an art you’ll eventually be able to master. Here are some tips you might find useful.
Understand the root cause of the behavior
Children do not just misbehave because they want to be difficult. Oftentimes they are feeling frustrated, hungry, or overwhelmed, and they do not know how to express their feelings clearly or effectively. Remember that young kids are not innately skilled when it comes to communicating their needs or feelings and more often than not, they use tantrums to gain your attention. Your child might have a need that isn’t being met, and your job is to find out what that need is. Be sure to assess the situation first before reacting or addressing the misbehavior.
Setting boundaries is an important way to ensure that children understand how they are expected to behave in certain situations. In order to set these boundaries, it’s also helpful to implement rules and consequences. Be sure to clearly communicate what is expected of your child so that following your rules becomes manageable and realistic. It’s also important to ensure that your little one clearly understands what will and will not be tolerated. If your child isn’t able to adhere to these guidelines, there should be a corresponding consequence for his or her actions.
It may be tempting to fall prey to your own emotions in times of stress and have an angry outburst when your child is misbehaving. However, staying calm is key. Do your best to remain calm so that you can understand and address the situation. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and approach the situation with a calm demeanor. Remember that it is normal for all young kids to go through some difficult phases from time to time. Instead of trying to immediately change your child’s behavior, it is best to focus on your own response first. It’s natural to feel frustrated, but it’s important that you know how to manage your anger as well.
Make sure your child feels heard
Letting your child know that you hear his or her concerns or frustration is vital when facing difficult behavior. Your little one’s tantrum is often a cry for help or attention. Therefore, make sure children know that they are being heard any time they express anger, sadness, or frustration. The better you aim to understand their points of view, the easier it becomes to talk to them and resolve the issue at hand.
Reward good behavior when possible
Giving a reward to children who behave well can be a useful parenting technique that encourages positive changes in behavior while discouraging negative behaviors from recurring. The reward you choose doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Just think of something your little one will love and enjoy.
For example, if your child finishes all of their food during dinner without crying or having a tantrum, you may consider letting him or her enjoy an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert or an additional 30 minutes of playtime.
Take time to explain
It’s also important to remember that young kids don’t have an immediate sense of what types of behavior are acceptable and unacceptable, so this is where your role as a parent comes in. Take time to explain to your child why certain behaviors are discouraged or won’t be tolerated. Discuss why it’s not ok to snatch a toy away from another child and explain how his or her actions can affect others. The more you explain to your child how others may be impacted by his or her choices, the more your child can develop empathy and discontinue that type of behavior.
Dealing with difficult behavior from children is no easy feat, but with some time and dedication, and these tips in your arsenal, you can successfully instill discipline and encourage better behavior with your little one.
For more tips and resources on parenting, please visit Young Scholars Academy.