If you’re a mom or a dad, you likely have –at one time or another – found yourself at wit’s end while parenting your child. When a pattern of bad behavior emerges, you may feel overwhelmed and frustrated. While each individual situation is different, there are a few elements that research has found to be consistent in fostering better behavior among children.
Here are some ways you can help foster better behavior in your child:
Above and beyond anything, is bonding. Well bonded children are secure and, therefore, do better in all things. They problem-solve better; they stick to a task longer; and they have better cognitive and social development. It is important while bonding with your child, not to burden them with your problems. This can create anxiety, and take their childhood away.
Active listening is the key to good communication between parent and child. In fact, active listening is the essential ingredient to family communication. Active listening involves a safe environment in which confidences are kept. Trust based on experience is developed; eye contact is held, and full attention is given. Furthermore, it is important not to defend positions, and to maintain empathy for all family members, including parents.
A safe space should be created in which the family sits together while communicating. This environment should not be anyone’s power place such as an office, study, or bedroom; but rather a mutual place such as the kitchen table, the heart of the house where alchemy happens. The empathic process should occur at least once a week at a set time – consistently.
4. The Empathic Process
The Empathic Process teaches empathy and mutuality by investing children in family problem solving, such as conflict resolution. Such participation in family business empowers children to feel that they have respect and responsibility, and therefore, a choice in what happens to them which establishes a win-win outcome for all. When children are invested in the process of creating the rewards and consequences for their behavior, they are more likely to behave. The empathic process has rules of engagement, which are flexible in relation to your particular family style. But in general, each family member speaks for a prescribed amount of time, while the other members listen intently, making eye contact. Then the parent speaks, giving his or her opinion without defending his or her position for the same allotted time. Then the entire family participates in the brainstorming period, which allows the children to be invested in the options for conflict resolution. This is a successful problem solving strategy, with positive regard for all. This approach works well for the assignment of chores, as well as their rotation and allows us to keep connection with our children, checking in on how they are doing in their social, emotional, and academic lives.
5. Consistent Follow Through
Following through in all things is imperative. If parents are reliable and children discover that they can count on their parents to advocate them – right or wrong – then they will value and trust themselves. If children value and trust themselves, they will transfer that trust to the world at large. This is how we make self-actualized children who are secure and proactive rather than reactive.
6. Be What You Want To See
Children take their cue from their parents. Parents are their children’s first teachers; and as children grow, they look at their parents with a more critical eye. The best inoculation against behavioral problems with children is to be a positive role model by having good nurturing skills; meeting their needs in a responsible way; and by being reliable. Then children will behave appropriately and choose to be responsible, have empathy and reliability.