When dealing with misbehaviors (either your own or your child’s) you basically have two choices on how to handle them. Reactive or proactive.
Choice number 1: reactive. Being reactive is the gut reaction that we have when we feel that a situation is spiraling out of control. That we are at the end of our rope. That we just can’t take this one more second!!! It’s screaming, yelling, making demands that may be unreasonable or certainly requested in an unreasonable way. It’s using punitive punishments like time out or taking away privileges that may or may not have anything to do with the actual circumstances. Now if your Mommy guilt is in overdrive after reading that, and you think you are going to do or say something reactive, fear not! We’ve all be there and we’ve all done it. The trick is to stop being reactive and move towards choice number 2…
Choice number 2: Being proactive is all about making a plan. Could be a mental plan, (note to self, kind of a thing) but I’ve seen parents sit down and actually write it out. It’s thinking ahead and putting knowledge into how and why we are addressing with the misbehavior.
So a simple plan might look like this:
1. figure out what the misbehavior is that you want to change. (what are the unmet needs?)
2. decide on what your end goal is. (hint: to change the misbehavior long term) **Be aware of his developmental stage and try to make sure that your expectations are appropriate for that age
3. think of ways that you can teach your child that will really mean something to him. For example, if your child is a visual learner maybe a social story or pictures will help him to really understand what your expectations are or what is socially acceptable.
4. put it into practice
5. keep doing it. be consistent. Your plan might not work right away, because let’s face it, any behavior takes a while to change. Or you might need to tweak your plan to make it more effective, but try to stay with it.
There are a lot of reasons to be proactive with your child’s misbehavior. It helps children with self regulation which is a fancy term that means; to identify, understand and appropriately meet their own needs. It helps them to draw on and cultivate their natural empathy and sympathy. And each time they navigate a situation in an suitable way and encounter success, it gives them higher self confidence and self esteem .
Interestingly enough the definition of insanity (according to Albert Einstein) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So if being reactive is not working or only working in the short term you might want to try being proactive. One step ahead of a reoccurring situation. It takes time, it takes commitment, it takes all of your supermom powers but once the goal is reached it’s well worth the effort.
Sandra and her decades of Early Childhood experience is often seen as Nicole’s side kick in parenting classes. She has an extensive knowledge on child development, behaviours and discipline. When Sandra is not teaching she can be found knitting all the cute baby hats you doula clients find in your swag bags.