Parenting Tips On How To Handle Difficult Behaviors Without Negatively Affecting Your Children
By: Nadia Khan
Updated July 12, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Heather Cashell
Why Are Children Difficult
How To Identify The Child's Behavior
The first step to changing the way you react to a stressful situation with your child is identifying and understanding the bad behavior that is causing it. What is it that you find stressful? If your child is acting out at dinner by crying, yelling or not eating, try to identify the cause of this behavior. Are they uncomfortable? Are they sick? Ensure that their basic needs are met and that this is not contributing to their reaction.
Some of the worst behaviors that parents identify are:
- Hitting self or others
- Refusing to eat or spitting food out
- Screaming and yelling
- Not listening
Choose Your Best Response
If your child is having a difficult behavior that is making them a danger to themselves or others, it is essential that you receive help from the authorities right away. Contact your local law enforcement or call an ambulance to have your child assessed. If they are to the point where they are going to hurt themselves or someone else, that needs to be addressed by a professional immediately.
Here are some parenting tips to consider when your children are difficult:
- Before you respond, take a deep breath and slowly exhale
This will help your heart rate to come down, your brain to get essential oxygen, and for you to think more clearly.
- Understand that while you may be upset at your child's behavior, it does not change how much you love them
- Talk calmly and quietly
You do not have to yell to get your point across to them. Often, when you speak in a quiet manner, they will automatically quiet down also so that they can hear what you are saying.
- Give clear, concise warnings and consequences
- Avoid using profanities and negative language
You do not want to berate your child for doing something wrong. Simply explain to them what was wrong and how it should be different. If you scold them over a poor decision that they made, it can negatively affect their self-esteem, and they will turn to other negative behaviors to receive reassurance. They may even begin to copy your poor language choices towards others.
We're All Human
It is important to acknowledge that you are human, and you will get frustrated. That is natural. What is essential is that you do not respond in such a way that causes your child to become abused or neglected. Demonstrating self-control in even the most difficult situations is necessary.
However, if you do react in a way that you wish you didn't, apologize to your child. Did you snap a bit more than you should have when their bed was not made? Did you use a wrong word when they dumped a juice box all over the floor? Turn a poor choice quickly into a teaching moment for both you and your child by apologizing and admitting what you did was wrong, why it was wrong and how it will be different next time. This teaches your child how to bounce back from a rough moment without spiraling out of control.
How To Seek Help
If you feel as though your reactions are out of anger and you do not feel within the control of yourself, it may be time to seek professional help. This is important to recognize so that in the heat of a difficult moment, you do not irrationally choose a reaction towards your child that involves them getting hurt, either emotionally or physically.
When you feel as though you are getting stressed out, before reacting, reach out to a friend or family member to assist you. Simply taking a break from each other may allow both you and your child to calm down and then process what happened together.
If you feel that there is more stress than joy in your home, it may be time to consider utilizing a counseling service that you can trust. At BetterHelp, licensed counselors are available for counseling in a private and secure setting. These sessions occur online and are flexible to your schedule. You can connect to a licensed counselor when your children are in bed if that is what best suits your needs.
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