HeartBorn

Inspiration and Support for Foster-Adoption Parents

Archive for the tag “Discipline”

10 Tips for Dealing with a Child’s Demanding Behaviors

Let’s face it – kids will test your limits. They will push your buttons. How do we deal with a child’s demanding behavior? Following are 10 tips we hope will help you manage this difficult phase.

  1. Be concrete – Don’t confuse your child by saying, “In a little while.” Or “In a bit.” Instead, be specific. For example, “We’ll read the book after you finish brushing your teeth.” Or “You can play outside when you put the toys away inside the container.”
  2. Take turns – Practice taking turns with the child. For example, during play time, say, “We are going to take turns choosing what we play. You go first, then I will go next.” You can model this in other areas as well: taking turns picking a movie, what to eat Friday nights and what drink mix, etc. This builds cooperation and teamwork.
  3. Give choices – Try to say “No” less. Instead, give choices. This will allow them to express their voice and gives them a sense of control. To avoid confusion, be careful not to give too many choices. Allowing the child to choose can be used as a distraction. For example, you can say, “You can color or play your DS while you wait for dinner.” Or have things set up for the child to avoid frustrations. For example, use coloring mats during meal times. It promotes learning and invites dialogue while you finish up a meal.
  4. Keep structure – Knowing what’s next alleviates anxiety. I know there are times when keeping structure is difficult. One way to help a child know what’s next is by using a timer. For example, when watching television, say, “When the bell rings, it’s time to turn off the T.V.”
  5. Explain the consequences – Be clear about the consequences before the child has opportunity to “misbehave.” For example, before going to the store, say, “We are only buying what’s on our list.” I find that having the child hold and “help check off” the list helps them focus. When they say, “I want…” I ask, “Is it on our list?” I play it off, then say, “No, it’s not” and just keep walking.
  6. Read a book or watch a movie Books or movies can provide great examples regarding various topics. After reading a book or watching a movie, talk about it. Ask questions that will open the dialogue. Please don’t give examples of what your child is doing wrong. Instead, use the characters and ask the child a question about what happened with the character. To reinforce the concept you are trying to instill, refer back to the character as many times as possible.
  7. Play games – Games have the potential to teach a demanding child the concept of “taking turns.” The child will learn that there are times of rest, passing and other times engaging in “their turn.” Children learn to empathy with others as they learn the game of “loosing” or “winning.”
  8. Model delayed gratification – This is important. Show your child that you are able to wait for those things you really want. For example, when shopping don’t buy an entire outfit. Instead, discuss the concept of being a “good steward.” Even if you can afford it, this will help the child understand that “we can’t always buy what we want.”
  9. Teach the difference between needs and wants – When a child’s impulsive tendency surfaces, they are not able to recognize it. Parenting requires helping your child identify their impulsive behaviors and help them choose wisely.  We don’t need a new bicycle. We want it. We need food, but we don’t need an ice cream cone. We want it. Check your own vocabulary and try to catch yourself when you misuse the word need.
  10. Be consistent and stay calm – As the adult, you have to be consistent and stay calm. It won’t help for you to show your frustration or anger.  In fact, it will only make things worse. So, model staying calm. Remember that eliminating demanding behaviors will take effort and energy. It’s all about trial and error but most of all, it takes time to reinforce these concepts.

We Want to Hear from You! – What are some helpful tools you have used to help with demanding behaviors? What were the results?

6 Tips for Dealing with Anger Outbursts

So I just experienced ZB’s first anger outburst. I was caressing ZG’s hair, as we’re sitting on the couch watching Veggie Tales, when suddenly ZB pulls ZG’s hair. I said, “ZB, we are nice. Please stop.” He then hits my face, gets off the sofa and walks away backwards, while attempting to spit on me. He continues to point his fingers and tries to spit once again. He fails miserably as it lands on his shirt. He stands behind the sofa and gives me his back. I then walk toward him, get on my knees and say, “Sweetie, I know you’re angry. I feel sad when you hit my face. It hurts. Let’s be nice.” Then, he starts crying, puts his arms up (a sign to carry him). I pick him up and comfort him. He stops crying. I then reinforce the “Be nice” catchphrase by saying, “Isn’t this much better… see how nice we can be to each other.”

After the first incident, we have had several others. I welcome them because I think that ZB is feeling comfortable to just be himself. I know that other times he does it to test us… to see if we will disengage. When he pushes us away, we gently stay in place and take baby steps to enter into his world. We encourage you to do the same. Following are six tips we hope can help in dealing with anger outbursts in your home:

  1. Show empathy – Showing empathy doesn’t mean tolerate the “bad behavior.” It just means you show the child you accept them as a person. Use I messages – “I am sad when you hit me. It hurts. I would like you to keep your hands to yourself.”
  2. Be clear and make it short – Children need to know ahead of time what you expect of them. One of the scripts that we have implemented in our home is the following: “We are nice, we don’t hit.” Don’t give the child a long sermon on the reasons they are not to hit. You will loose them.
  3. Don’t take it personal – Don’t make yourself that important. I do mean this in a loving way. Taking things personal means we allow ourselves to be consumed with “I.” It takes the focus off the child. We are the adults. They are children. Therefore, we are to guide them into more healthy styles of relating.
  4. Role model – If we want these children to do as we say, then we need to model that for them. Remember that these children are hurt children. They may have never had proper boundaries modeled for them. Show them what you mean with your own words and actions. Kids are watching our every move!
  5. Be consistent – Setting boundaries with your child doesn’t mean they will change after the first time. There needs to be plenty of practice experiences. I always say that conflict is great because it allows us (The child and myself) to get to know each other better, to experience each other at a deeper level. Although this statement may sound weird, children will need to learn how to deal with conflict in our home. They will go out into the real world one day, so let’s prepare them.
  6. Always end with touch – Now, if your child does not allow you to touch them, I suggest you respect that boundary. If your child does respond to touch – PLEASE end with a great hug!

We Want to Hear from You! – What did the first anger outburst look like in your home? How did you handle it?

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