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The riddle of kids' poor behaviour

12 May
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Think back to the last time one of your children behaved poorly in your home.

How did you react?

Did you yell, whine or roll your eyes?

Whatever your reaction my guess is that you probably acted impulsively and without thinking.

And of course, as a parent you get tired, stressed and frustrated. Children’s poor or uncooperative behaviour merely makes you more tired, stressed and frustrated. So the cycle continues.

The trouble with impulsive parental reactions to children’s misbehaviour is that they usually just encourage the same poor behaviour rather than make it diminish.

Ever said to your child (or something similar), “If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a 1,000 times don’t………… .”

If you have, there is a good chance that your impulsive reactions just fed the poor or uncooperative behaviour.

The reason that impulsive reactions encourage rather than reduce poor behaviour is that most misbehaviour that involves you as a parent is PURPOSEFUL.

It is not consciously purposeful, but there is a pay-off. Let’s face it, most parents are as predictable as washing machine cycles when kids misbehave.

So next time your child whines, argues or refuses to go to bed avoid your first impulse. Don’t tell them to stop whining.

Avoid getting involved in arguments of children’s making. Resist reminding your child to get to bed (he or she already heard you the first time).

Change your first response, which is to focus on them. Instead, focus on yourself and your behaviour.

Stay calm. Think what’s behind this and act accordingly. If the behaviour is about getting your attention then put your attention elsewhere. If it’s about getting their own way, refuse to fight.

Then act, rather than speak. Use natural or logical consequences do their magic. (E.g Put the meal on the table and let it get cold rather than remind them one more time to come…….and take it away after ten minutes.) Consequences get you out of the picture.

The key when kids don’t cooperate is to talk less and act more.

That’s hard to do if you react impulsively when kids misbehave.

Find out more about raising well-behaved kids at

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