Parenting is not always easy, it’s not cute kisses and belly laughs all of the time. It differs from child to child but from around 9-10 months onwards children may throw tantrums, shout and scream, cry if you take something from them, hit parents or friends, not listen when you tell them not to do something, etc…This is not unusual. From that age children are learning what they can and can’t do, what they can get away with and what they can’t. They will push boundaries and buttons. Seeing where their parents draw the line helps them understand what is acceptable and what is not. This is why from a young age it’s important to decide what kind of parent you want to be and what is acceptable to you. Each family is different. A few years ago I met a family and the kids were pretty much allowed to do as they pleased and the parents didn’t raise their voices once. They spoke to them in a calm manner and corrected them when they needed to. I’ve seen many other families who don’t let their children explore at all. The child is expected to “behave” at all times. But kids will be kids, they will make a mess, they will throw things. How we handle it as parents is what will make the biggest difference. It’s important for us to teach our children through positive parenting.
So how can we do this?
1. Talk and Listen to your children – Try and figure out what agitates your child and respond to them before the situation escalates. It’s important to use positive language and positive words – so for example rather than say “Don’t make a mess” you could say “Please tidy up your toys”. It’s also important to watch your tone. Children are very sensitive to the way in which we speak to them and we should try and say what we have to in a neutral and calm tone. Sometimes if you change your tone you may actually surprise them 😉
2. Listen to your child – Get down to their level and listen to them. If your child is old enough, sit down and ask them how they feel and listen patiently while they tell you. As children develop their vocabulary and learn how to express themselves, it’s important to really “listen” to them.
3. Explaining – It’s important to give a child reasons for why they can or cannot do something. For example rather than say to your child “You can’t play with Rosie’s doll”, you could say “Rosie is playing with the doll, lets find you something else.”
4. Involve your child – When your child is old enough, involve them in their day to day routine. Ask them what they’d like to wear, ask them what they’d like to eat. Give them choices. “Would you like chicken strips or fish fingers for dinner?”
5. Understand changes as your child grows – they go from being explorers (wanting to get into everything) to being independent (wanting to walk on their own, eat on their own, etc.) to pushing their boundaries to see what they’re allowed to do. It’s important to always encourage them and not just pay attention when they are misbehaving or they’ll misbehave just to get your attention.
I’ve personally noticed with my own child, when I sit down and spend time with him, play with him, he giggles and laughs. But if I’m on the computer reading up on stuff or checking facebook (guilty!!), he’ll do anything to get my attention. Including trying to climb up onto the coffee table. Oopss…
6. Build Self-confidence – Building your child’s self confidence will help them to try out new things, to go out and get what they want, make new friends and deal with the ups and downs life throws at them. Give them space, let them figure out things for themselves. Sometimes doing too much for your child cripples them. Letting them figure things out for themselves will boost their confidence. Praise them – I read as a general rule you should praise your children five times more than you criticise them (but at least start with three times). Avoid comparisons – each child is different and comparing your child to another is one of the worse things you can do to their self confidence (also leads to tension between your child and said child).
7. Have realistic expectations – I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Kids will be kids” – and that they will. They’ll be messy, noisy and at times disobedient. But give them the freedom to make mistakes and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions.
I think the most important thing is to always let your child know you love them, even when you’re angry with them. To let them know that it’s the behaviour you don’t like and not them.