St. Joseph Children’s Home was the place where I learned many of skills pertaining to how to work with difficult children. There were certain house parents who did a great job with these children and others who struggled. I worked hard to learn from the best. It is my intent in the article to give you an inside look at a parenting strategy used. One of the tricks to dealing with misbehavior is to find and correct as many underlying problems as possible. When this is accomplished , a parent will either reduce the size and scope of the problem or eliminate it.
I’ll start by giving you an example of what not to do. I was recently in a school where a preschooler acted enraged. This child was probably 3-4 years old. Preschoolers wait in the main hallway before being sent to their classrooms as a group. Not only was he hollering at the top of his voice, he was stomping his feet, and acted defiantly towards adults.
I don’t know what the underlying problem was but he wasn’t my focus. I was watching the adults to see how they would handle the situation. At first, they ignored it, This strategy sometimes works depending on the child. I’ve used it when I thought it would be the best option. As time went by though, the strategy clearly wasn’t working. It could have been due to the surrounding children because he had an audience. I have to admit I was really intrigued at this point.
When the group was sent to their class, the misbehaving boy was left behind with one adult. The boy was still clearly angry. It was obvious there was a real problem. What I saw though made me cringe. The adult, left behind to supervise the boy, tried to talk with him. He hollered something I couldn’t quite understand and the adult mocked him! I couldn’t believe it. Seconds later, she pulled out her phone and started texting while the boy was still upset. It wasn’t my place to step in but there’s no chance I would have wanted that lady around either of my children if they were ever upset.
Finding the underlying problem behind an undesired behavior is a real key. Here’s an example. Let’s say your child doesn’t want to do their homework. They throw fits and make the time unpleasant for everyone. My question would be why is the homework such a big deal? Homework should be designed to reinforce what is taught during the school day (especially in the early grades).
Could it be the kid is merely hungry? After all, he/she hasn’t had a bite to eat since lunch. The easy solution is to give a snack that takes no more than 15 minutes to eat; then get to work. Could it be the child is lazy or tired? That’s no problem. Let the child lay down 1/2 hour before the homework begins. This could be on a couch or a bed. I’ll caution you though. The television shouldn’t be turned on at this time. Could it be the child is testing you? Maybe if they holler enough, you eventually sit down and give them attention while they are doing their work. Complaining serves the purpose of receiving quality time with you. On a side note, no matter how ridiculous the solution may be to you, do what it takes to solve the homework problem.
There are a lot of possible solutions to the homework dilemma. Your job as the parent is to find the solution. When you do, homework time will run much smoother.
Children have reasons for acting out. If your response is to yell, hit, or text when they are acting out, the problem is usually not being solved. I believe children want to be happy even when they have to do things (like homework) they don’t like doing.
Because my goal for this blog is to have you think; here’s a brief assignment. Think about a time your child really misbehaved. Now ask yourself this question. Was there an underlying problem that, if dealt with properly, could have reduced or eliminated the misbehavior? I hope you find an answer you can place in your parenting tool bag and use if the misbehavior ever happens again.
As always, I wish you the best.