It seems that no amount of punishment or bribery can make some kids behave.  In the old days, a threat of a spanking could be a deterrent or, in my case, a trip to the bathroom to “get the wooden spoon” or some hits on my hands with my dad’s belt.

parent punishing child

These days, there is a movement against spanking and, indeed, there’s a better way.  Remember, when your child at some point becomes bigger and more powerful than you, punishment no longer is an option.

So what can we do to handle our kids’ misbehavior?

To get at the root of misbehavior, we need to find out what causes it.  Most often, it’s a bid for our attention and we give plenty of attention with threats, constant reprimands, yelling and withdrawal of privileges or treats.  We need to understand our kids.  Do they feel that a brother or sister is loved more than they are?  Do they feel they only get noticed if they do something wrong?  Is their self-esteem lowered by a lot of criticism or humiliation?  Are parents yelling at them a lot and making them feel angry and rebellious?  If we understand our kids, and look at them as human beings with needs just like ours for love, attention and respect, we might find that we are needing change as much as they are.

What would happen if we did something totally different, ignoring negative behavior (unless it’s causing danger to people or property) and recognizing our child’s positive behavior, giving attention to positives rather than negatives?  Every kid does something right and parents need to look for that, appreciate it and point it out to the child, not just once but on a regular basis.  Team that with a new attitude of ignoring bad behavior and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

When you start thinking a new way and consistently encourage your child’s positives, you’ll find the negative behavior starts disappearing from lack of feeding it with your attention!  Why misbehave when nobody notices?  Pats on the back, hugs, cuddles and “I love you” will make kids feel valued and good about themselves.  They’ll want to contribute to family life to get more of this kind of attention.  Also, their self-esteem improves and this will help them face the ups and downs of life outside the family.

There are other things you can do as well as encouraging positives but it’s an amazing way to begin making changes in your family relationships.  I hope you’ll consider taking me up on my offer of 20 minutes of talking with me and find out what options are available to learn not just more about dealing with misbehavior, but how to deal with specific issues you might be facing.  You may find that taking some steps to learn more is a good investment for the happiness of your family.

Meanwhile, try this: Choose a person in your family, or even at work, and decide to give encouragement by noticing the positives for a whole week.  See what happens!

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