Parenting is very challenging, especially when your child is acting out and being difficult.
The following information will help you and your kids both get back on track and communicate more easily.
Step 1: Create a Plan of Attack
To succeed at facilitating change in your child’s behavior, start by developing a plan to address the negative behavior.
To create a behavioral plan, start by writing down your objectives. Create and write down some of the milestones you want to achieve.
Having a plan will help you realize better outcomes behaviorally and communicatively.
Establish a plan that rewards desirable behaviors and reduces the negative behaviors you don’t want to see.
You can tailor your plan to your family’s individual needs and lifestyle.
It helps to write down your personal beliefs and convictions. This step provides clarity and direction on the values you want your child to adopt.
Be sure to practice yourself the behaviors that you want your child to imitate, so they can witness it for themselves.
For example, if you want to show them the benefits of hard work and truthfulness, show them how you complete your work on time and are forthright when something does not go your way.
What you are doing is setting the expectations of how to act for your kids.
If you truly believe and embody what you set as guidelines for your kids, they won’t be perfect but will know they are wrong and it will be easier to get back on track when things get rough.
Step 2 – Write Down the Rules for Your Household
Once you write down your values and beliefs, you are ready to write down the rules for your household.
To do this, you need to identify the behaviors you don’t like in your child.
You need to be specific or else your child will interpret the guidelines their own way.
For instance, instead of saying, “Be nice to your sister,” it’s better to say, “Don’t yell or call your sister names.” Or, you might add, “Never hit your sister.”
When writing down rules, you need to be very clear about what is acceptable and what is not allowed.
By using this approach, you can avoid any arguments, as your child will know when he or she breaks a rule.
Reward Good Behavior
Behavioral plans work better when a parent responds positively to good behavior.
Therefore, praise your child when he or she behaves like you expect.
That is the glue that helps you stick on the right behavioral path. You can show your appreciation just by saying, “thanks,” or doing something extra you normally do not do.
Step 3 – Communicate the Rules for the Household
Next, you need to relay the rules you have written down for your household and family.
Gather up your clan and answer any questions they may have.
Your kids should understand the rules you have made and know what punishments they will receive if they break them.
For a behavioral plan to work, you have to make sure the child clearly knows that a specific behavior will result in a punishment or reward.
If you do this, they will be more likely to follow your rules.
Step 4 – Follow Through with Your Punishments and Rewards
Don’t just tell a kid what he or she can expect if he behaves or misbehaves. You also have to follow through.
Otherwise, you compromise the perceived legitimacy of the established household rules.
Research shows that if you reward or punish a kid regularly, they will also be more consistent about following the rules.
To ensure success in this respect, you might think of doing the following:
- Share parenting duties with your spouse so you don’t always have to be the bad guy.
- Discuss the punishment in advance when you’re feeling calm and less emotional, and do not compromise if your child appeals for leniency.
- Give yourself pep talks so you can continue to follow through on your parenting and behavioral plan.
Step 5 – Give the Plan Time to Work
Be aware that your new behavioral plan and the supporting rules will not magically work right away.
It usually takes longer for the plan to take effect.
According to research, a kid will act worse, when testing the boundaries, before he or she begins to improve.
If your kids are older, they will test the boundaries more often, thereby causing more challenges.
If your kid is acting badly, step away and give yourself a pep talk.
This is the time you definitely don’t want to give up. Getting anything implemented of this magnitude takes patience and perseverance.
To make sure your behavioral plan works and you get your child back on track, remember that you need to know what to anticipate and follow through on what you say.
When you make these parenting behaviors a habit, you will also realize better results from your children behaviorally.
About the Author: Mike Williams has been writing about mental health, recovery, and self-help issues for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Confidential Recovery.