Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Leadership Parents Handle Misbehavior
Parents ask me for solutions to various behavior problems all the time. They generally want a quick tool that they can use to immediately, automatically get their child to behave - right now.
I can’t give them that.
Getting your children to choose to behave takes parental leadership. It is more a state of being than a single action. Once parents have mastered the state of being, THEN they can implement various tools. And when parents are practicing leadership parenting effectively, they only need the tools ocassionally!
The quick fixes only work for well-established leadership parents. Sometimes all you need is a caustic “really?” or “the look” or “you already know the answer to that” or “you are going to your room for the rest of the day”. But don’t expect any of those to solve major, ongoing misbehavior.
Leadership parents know that they have to be strategic in their parenting. They know that they are not going to get car misbehavior under control by saying “stop that”. Nor is their suddenly obnoxious 6 year old going to turn delightful because you take his Kindle away for a night. Nor is their wildly disobedient child going to turn around because you send him to his room after supper tonight.
The very first thing leadership parents do is ACT LIKE LEADERS. They talk quietly, assuredly, calmly. They give directions clearly and concisely. They don’t give too many directions. They don’t threaten, bargain or give second chances.
Above all, they don’t talk too much.
One of the most useless actions I see is trying to talk your child into good behavior. Things like: “oh sweetie, it isn’t nice to hurt your brother, I just know you didn’t mean to hurt him, don’t you want your brother to like you, how would you feel if someone hit you, oh I am so disappointed in you, don’t you want Mommy to be proud of her little man”. Trust me, your child is not listening to all that AND he is a child so what he does hear will not mean any of the things YOU think it means.
Please, please save your breath!!!!
When you want obedience, give your directions in clear terms. Whenever possible, predict misbehavior and give your directions BEFORE it happens. “While we are in the car, you are not to hit or tease your brother.” If the misbehavior happens, then have a plan on what you will do about it. (You could stop the car and wait until all misbehavior stops, you could turn around and go home immediately, you could send him to bed immediately after supper). But above all, don’t explain yourself and don’t talk, talk, talk about the incident. Call the foul, assess the penalty and move on with life!
Misbehavior handled this way very often begins to decline quickly. Calm, consistent leadership will tell your child that one way or the other, his parents will respond to misbehavior in ways he doesn’t like.
It is true that for serious, imbedded and constant misbehavior, leadership parenting alone may not work. Those are the times we need to develop tools and behavior management plans. And they will work, but ONLY when put in place by Leadership Parents!