Your child is amazing and unique. When you see him clean up or put his dish in the sink — without a reminder — you believe that every cell in his body is pure love.
Then there are the other moments. Last week, he pulled all the boxes off the shelf at CVS after biting his friend at the playground, and if that wasn’t enough, today he declares, in front of his teacher, that he doesn’t have to listen to you. Or he looks right at you as he pours his milk on his sister.
It’s not the most flattering behavior, is it?
What to do?
You know that keeping your child within reach at all times is exhausting.
Not leaving the house is another option, but then, who will do the errands?
You can make excuses for the bad behavior: He’s tired. Hungry. Coming down with something.
I’ve got some unfortunate news: When you make excuses or completely avoid a challenging situation, you do your child a disservice.
That means that the ultimate solution is to address the behavior.
I’ve seen children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sit and focus on his homework, kids with oppositional defiant disorder listen to every direction given, and kiddos with autism navigate overwhelming social situations. If these kids can be successful, then so can your child.
The solution on how to make this happen comes in four parts:
Stop making excuses for your small beings. They are capable of learning anything, if you teach them in the right way. If you allow the problem behavior to be okay, then they learn that it is okay, and more likely, the behavior will happen again in the future. Your language alone can change this.
Look realistically at the challenging behavior. Decide if it really needs to change. If it does, great! Then take one step towards the desired behavior and start celebrating the small progress your child makes. If it does not need to change, then stop commenting on it, and let it happen.
Teach your children rather than punish them. When problem behavior props up, we often react with our own frustration. Problem behavior is often repeated, so you may be able to predict when it is coming. Be proactive and get yourself ready to teach your child, rather than yell once he misbehaves.
Create teaching opportunities. We generally avoid things that we do not enjoy, so we often do not put children in situations that will be challenging. The best way to get them to practice is to put your child in situations that are mildly difficult and use small steps to build up successes!
I’ll be your cheerleader here: Stop making excuses and start putting in the hard work to make behavior change happen!
For more help with behavior, please visit my page made exclusively for NY Parenting readers at: bit.ly/vid-nyp.
Dr. Marcie Beigel is a behavioral therapist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families for more than 15 years and has condensed her observations into her practice and programs. For more on her, visit www.Behav