Addressing Discipline and Misbehavior With Your Child

Posted Jul 5, 2016

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Summary

  • Give your child positive attention and praise.
  • Choose discipline over punishment.
  • Teach your child to make good choices.

Children like attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. Often this means acting out. After all, negative attention is better than no attention. Staying aware of this can help you better understand and guide your child’s behavior.

Look at me

Newborn babies demand our attention and will get it mostly by crying. Their crying alerts us that they may need to be fed, burped, changed, rocked, or held.

When toddlers begin to talk, one of their favorite phrases becomes “look at me.” Even if they do not say these exact words, they will say it with their actions. Running, screaming, crying, biting, hitting, throwing toys, and throwing fits, certainly get noticed.

In many ways, kids never really outgrow their need for attention. Just look at our “selfie”-driven, social media culture. Kids, teens, and even adults get caught up in how many people notice their posts. Look at me, like me, follow me, friend me, even argue with me, but just don’t ignore me.

Positive attention

One of the best ways to improve a child’s actions and self-worth is through positive attention. This means “catching” your child doing something good. This is not always easy. As parents, we tend to expect and therefore ignore good conduct. When we are busy we do not think about stopping to praise our child for not disrupting. Yet, this is exactly the best time to do it.

Negative attention

If kids do not get positive attention they will settle for negative attention. Children learn quickly that their misconduct will trigger a response. This can easily form bad habits in kids as well as their parents.

Giving attention to undesired actions will only reinforce those actions. Over time, a child learns exactly which “buttons” to push in order to get noticed. The cycle then gets repeated over and over. Parents should try to ignore misconduct whenever possible.

There are times, though, when you can neither ignore your child’s actions nor reason with him. One example is if your toddler starts throwing a temper tantrum during church. Carrying him out “kicking and screaming” may be your best option at that point.

Discipline vs. punishment

Experts often differ on the use of punishment for children. All would agree that harsh forms of physical punishment are never an option, however. Neither is punishing your child when you are angry. Take deep breaths and count to 10. Call on a family member, neighbor, or friend to take over. Physical or verbal abuse should never be used for any reason.

Rather than using punishment, think in terms of disciplining your child. Punishment involves paying a penalty for “bad” behavior. Discipline teaches a child the value of making “good” choices.

Choices and consequences

Proper discipline helps build a child’s self-worth by offering choices. For instance, a child may choose to eat all her dinner in order to get dessert. Or she may choose to not eat her dinner and miss out on dessert. In either case the child is in control of making her own decision. She is not being forced to eat dinner. Instead, she is (hopefully) choosing to do so in order to not miss out on something she wants. This teaches the child that her choices have consequences, whether good or bad.

Discipline should always be carried out in a calm manner. You should also give your child one warning before following through. Make sure your child knows clearly the choices and the consequences of those choices. Once your child makes a choice, however, be sure to carry it out. Making idle threats or giving in will cause you to lose your authority.

Make sure the type of discipline you choose is age appropriate. For instance, as your child grows older, you might go from timeouts and grounding to taking away his phone or car keys.

Getting help

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a parent, reach out to someone you trust for help. Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member. Every parent needs help from time to time. This is especially true for single parents or parents with many children.

Some kids may be doing more than just seeking attention. Patterns of severe misconduct for longer than six months could signal a behavior disorder. These patterns may involve destructive actions toward people, property, animals, or themselves. They can also include early substance use and sexual involvement. Behavior classes and therapy have been shown to be effective. Seek immediate expert help as these children pose a threat to themselves and to others.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers Parenting Videos

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-111/350-111.html; Texas Woman’s University, www.twu.edu/downloads/counseling/E-18_Why_Do_Children_Misbehave.pdf; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/consequences/index.html; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/punishing-child.aspx; Berkeley University of California, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/deal_with_misbehaving_kids; U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childbehaviordisorders.html

Summary

  • Give your child positive attention and praise.
  • Choose discipline over punishment.
  • Teach your child to make good choices.

Children like attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. Often this means acting out. After all, negative attention is better than no attention. Staying aware of this can help you better understand and guide your child’s behavior.

Look at me

Newborn babies demand our attention and will get it mostly by crying. Their crying alerts us that they may need to be fed, burped, changed, rocked, or held.

When toddlers begin to talk, one of their favorite phrases becomes “look at me.” Even if they do not say these exact words, they will say it with their actions. Running, screaming, crying, biting, hitting, throwing toys, and throwing fits, certainly get noticed.

In many ways, kids never really outgrow their need for attention. Just look at our “selfie”-driven, social media culture. Kids, teens, and even adults get caught up in how many people notice their posts. Look at me, like me, follow me, friend me, even argue with me, but just don’t ignore me.

Positive attention

One of the best ways to improve a child’s actions and self-worth is through positive attention. This means “catching” your child doing something good. This is not always easy. As parents, we tend to expect and therefore ignore good conduct. When we are busy we do not think about stopping to praise our child for not disrupting. Yet, this is exactly the best time to do it.

Negative attention

If kids do not get positive attention they will settle for negative attention. Children learn quickly that their misconduct will trigger a response. This can easily form bad habits in kids as well as their parents.

Giving attention to undesired actions will only reinforce those actions. Over time, a child learns exactly which “buttons” to push in order to get noticed. The cycle then gets repeated over and over. Parents should try to ignore misconduct whenever possible.

There are times, though, when you can neither ignore your child’s actions nor reason with him. One example is if your toddler starts throwing a temper tantrum during church. Carrying him out “kicking and screaming” may be your best option at that point.

Discipline vs. punishment

Experts often differ on the use of punishment for children. All would agree that harsh forms of physical punishment are never an option, however. Neither is punishing your child when you are angry. Take deep breaths and count to 10. Call on a family member, neighbor, or friend to take over. Physical or verbal abuse should never be used for any reason.

Rather than using punishment, think in terms of disciplining your child. Punishment involves paying a penalty for “bad” behavior. Discipline teaches a child the value of making “good” choices.

Choices and consequences

Proper discipline helps build a child’s self-worth by offering choices. For instance, a child may choose to eat all her dinner in order to get dessert. Or she may choose to not eat her dinner and miss out on dessert. In either case the child is in control of making her own decision. She is not being forced to eat dinner. Instead, she is (hopefully) choosing to do so in order to not miss out on something she wants. This teaches the child that her choices have consequences, whether good or bad.

Discipline should always be carried out in a calm manner. You should also give your child one warning before following through. Make sure your child knows clearly the choices and the consequences of those choices. Once your child makes a choice, however, be sure to carry it out. Making idle threats or giving in will cause you to lose your authority.

Make sure the type of discipline you choose is age appropriate. For instance, as your child grows older, you might go from timeouts and grounding to taking away his phone or car keys.

Getting help

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a parent, reach out to someone you trust for help. Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member. Every parent needs help from time to time. This is especially true for single parents or parents with many children.

Some kids may be doing more than just seeking attention. Patterns of severe misconduct for longer than six months could signal a behavior disorder. These patterns may involve destructive actions toward people, property, animals, or themselves. They can also include early substance use and sexual involvement. Behavior classes and therapy have been shown to be effective. Seek immediate expert help as these children pose a threat to themselves and to others.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers Parenting Videos

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-111/350-111.html; Texas Woman’s University, www.twu.edu/downloads/counseling/E-18_Why_Do_Children_Misbehave.pdf; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/consequences/index.html; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/punishing-child.aspx; Berkeley University of California, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/deal_with_misbehaving_kids; U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childbehaviordisorders.html

Summary

  • Give your child positive attention and praise.
  • Choose discipline over punishment.
  • Teach your child to make good choices.

Children like attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. Often this means acting out. After all, negative attention is better than no attention. Staying aware of this can help you better understand and guide your child’s behavior.

Look at me

Newborn babies demand our attention and will get it mostly by crying. Their crying alerts us that they may need to be fed, burped, changed, rocked, or held.

When toddlers begin to talk, one of their favorite phrases becomes “look at me.” Even if they do not say these exact words, they will say it with their actions. Running, screaming, crying, biting, hitting, throwing toys, and throwing fits, certainly get noticed.

In many ways, kids never really outgrow their need for attention. Just look at our “selfie”-driven, social media culture. Kids, teens, and even adults get caught up in how many people notice their posts. Look at me, like me, follow me, friend me, even argue with me, but just don’t ignore me.

Positive attention

One of the best ways to improve a child’s actions and self-worth is through positive attention. This means “catching” your child doing something good. This is not always easy. As parents, we tend to expect and therefore ignore good conduct. When we are busy we do not think about stopping to praise our child for not disrupting. Yet, this is exactly the best time to do it.

Negative attention

If kids do not get positive attention they will settle for negative attention. Children learn quickly that their misconduct will trigger a response. This can easily form bad habits in kids as well as their parents.

Giving attention to undesired actions will only reinforce those actions. Over time, a child learns exactly which “buttons” to push in order to get noticed. The cycle then gets repeated over and over. Parents should try to ignore misconduct whenever possible.

There are times, though, when you can neither ignore your child’s actions nor reason with him. One example is if your toddler starts throwing a temper tantrum during church. Carrying him out “kicking and screaming” may be your best option at that point.

Discipline vs. punishment

Experts often differ on the use of punishment for children. All would agree that harsh forms of physical punishment are never an option, however. Neither is punishing your child when you are angry. Take deep breaths and count to 10. Call on a family member, neighbor, or friend to take over. Physical or verbal abuse should never be used for any reason.

Rather than using punishment, think in terms of disciplining your child. Punishment involves paying a penalty for “bad” behavior. Discipline teaches a child the value of making “good” choices.

Choices and consequences

Proper discipline helps build a child’s self-worth by offering choices. For instance, a child may choose to eat all her dinner in order to get dessert. Or she may choose to not eat her dinner and miss out on dessert. In either case the child is in control of making her own decision. She is not being forced to eat dinner. Instead, she is (hopefully) choosing to do so in order to not miss out on something she wants. This teaches the child that her choices have consequences, whether good or bad.

Discipline should always be carried out in a calm manner. You should also give your child one warning before following through. Make sure your child knows clearly the choices and the consequences of those choices. Once your child makes a choice, however, be sure to carry it out. Making idle threats or giving in will cause you to lose your authority.

Make sure the type of discipline you choose is age appropriate. For instance, as your child grows older, you might go from timeouts and grounding to taking away his phone or car keys.

Getting help

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a parent, reach out to someone you trust for help. Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member. Every parent needs help from time to time. This is especially true for single parents or parents with many children.

Some kids may be doing more than just seeking attention. Patterns of severe misconduct for longer than six months could signal a behavior disorder. These patterns may involve destructive actions toward people, property, animals, or themselves. They can also include early substance use and sexual involvement. Behavior classes and therapy have been shown to be effective. Seek immediate expert help as these children pose a threat to themselves and to others.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers Parenting Videos

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-111/350-111.html; Texas Woman’s University, www.twu.edu/downloads/counseling/E-18_Why_Do_Children_Misbehave.pdf; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/consequences/index.html; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/punishing-child.aspx; Berkeley University of California, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/deal_with_misbehaving_kids; U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childbehaviordisorders.html

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