April 26, 2017

The Big Secret to Getting Your Kids to Behave

By Erin Kurt

Ever wonder why some days your kids just seem to test you, rebel against you or resist everything you ask of them? That happened to me a couple of days ago and I want to share with you how I resolved this issue. 

 

My family has been on holiday for the past two weeks. Due to a variety of life circumstances, my hubby and I were in need of a huge break from regular life. So, the fact that we had grandparents around, ready and willing to look after our kids so that we could sleep in and generally do what we wanted without the kids, felt like a blessing. The problem? We forgot one of the most basic rules of good parenting. 

 

Let me step back a bit before I go into that. You see, when I say that my hubby and I were sleeping in and doing what we wanted I also must add that personally, I just wanted to be on my own, without the kids. This may sound harsh because anyone who knows me knows that I adore my kiddies and I love spending time with them. However, the freedom of reading what I wanted and relegating all responsibility to my parents was kind of a nice break for a few days. For example, while we were out for a family walk I was holding my son’s hand, yet my back started hurting a bit because my son was walking slower than me which made my back twist every time I took a step. So, I let his hand go and said, “Go hold daddy’s hand, my back hurts.” After a day of me unconsciously pushing him away I began to see some undesirable results. 

 

That night, everything my husband and I asked him to do he resisted. He even used a snarky tone and said, “No, I won’t do that!” which is COMPLETELY out of character for him. What usually worked with him was not working and the resistance grew more and more as the night progressed. In fact, the evening ended with me putting the story book down at night and saying, “No story tonight. You’ve really disappointed me” and him crying. 

 

Although this is difficult to share, as it is so unlike me (and him) I felt it important to share because this sometimes happens with the parents I coach. Everything is going great and then BOOM! Negative behaviour or resistance appears and they think their luck has run out and now this stage or age is going to be the difficult one. Until… I coach them on this important point. 

 

Children’s main desire is to feel loved, and there are four ways that they feel loved. 

They are:

  1. Focused attention
  2. Physical Contact
  3. Eye Contact
  4. Discipline

 

During those couple of days, I had basically removed all focused attention, physically let go of his hand, and didn’t give much eye contact except to discipline him. Are you beginning to solve that problem I asked earlier? Wow! You must be a parenting coach! No, you see? Parenting isn’t rocket science. It’s just about knowing a few specific things, being reflective and then taking action. 

 

After my husband and I reflected on my son’s behaviour, we realized that WE needed to step up and change a few things. So, the next morning my hubby got up when our son did and connected with him. Not in a major way, just asked him questions and showed interest in what he was talking about. Then I woke up, came over to him, looked him right in the eye to say, “Good Morning, Sweetie” while I rubbed his hair (there’s that physical contact!) and then proceeded to interact naturally with him and the rest of our family. Later that morning, we told him we were going to go to our friend’s house so we all had to get ready. The day before he would have refused, but today he was willing. 

 

After we got dressed we walked to the car and I asked him, “Can I hold your hand?” His response? “Of course you can, Mommy!” While we walked in silence he then snuggled into me, kissed my hand, and said, “Mmm… cozy!” 

 

Our son was amazing and polite the rest of the day and that evening I left his room the way we usually do. Then, the child who is usually too shy/reserved to go up and kiss people came out of his room and to each of us (grandma and grandpa included) asked if we would like a kiss! For him to do this on his own was shocking as it’s out of his comfort zone for sure. 

 

Some parents might say, that’s it? That’s really ALL you did and his behaviour turned around? Yes. It really doesn’t take that much for kids to feel loved and WANT to intrinsically behave, be polite and be happy. They will show you they aren’t getting what they need from you by acting out. There is ALWAYS a reason. 

 

So, the next time you notice your kids acting abnormally different or worse, take some time to reflect and see if your children are truly feeling loved using the 4 criteria above then watch the way things can just “magically” change.

 

Erin Kurt, B.Ed, spent 16 years as a teacher and nanny around the world. Now, she applies her expertise as a parenting expert and author of Juggling Family Life and The Life Balance Formula. You can learn more about Erin and her simple, loving parent ing method, and subscribe to her weekly parenting tips e-zine at erinparenting.com. You’ll also receive Erin’s free video series “8 Secrets to Stress-Free Parenting,” packed with parentings tips!

Comments

  1. This article is so right on! I feel like our 8 year old son has been acting up since his 19 month old sister came into the picture…whether with behavior or school work. I’m trying so hard to give attention but at the end of the day am so beat. I feel like such a nag and grouchy yeller especially in the evenings when we are trying to finish homework and reading. The evening usually ends up negative and I don’t have it in me to go up and read, cuddle, and pray so I ask my husband to go. (probably every other day). I am going to really try to start back to that precious cuddle time when I usually can get some really “important” stuff out of him about the day and his feelings. Thanks for the inspiration Erin!

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