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Part Three: Creating & Promoting Good Behavior from your Child

This is the last in a series of posts on handling difficult behaviors from children. This blog is aimed at helping parents switch from constantly chasing negative behaviors to creating positive behaviors.

If consistency has been absent, and a child's "defiance” too great… it is time to weather the storm, and put your focus on building the positive. Here is why - if your follow through on consequence is inconsistent, your child likely has insecurity about trusting your positive comments as well. And if a child's defiance is too great, there is likely need for a stronger relationship to contain & support the child's needs. 

An important note here is how I am measuring the strength of relationship. This is NOT measured by being ‘friends’ with your daughter or being liked/admired/or cool by your son’s perception. It IS about being authentic and connected to the degree the relationship is able to withstand moments of conflict and dislike, because the underlying care, compassion, and safety are never in doubt.

So what does weathering the storm mean or look like? It means understanding tantrums and defiance, regardless of age, are going to happen until the child, or adult, has learned and mastered more effective coping strategies! It also means turning away from punishment, and allowing natural or logical consequence to be a teacher.

Problems with Punishment:

  • Punishment is relational – determined by one person and applied to another person, and therefore more likely to be inconsistent in intensity and frequency (better to keep the problem outside of the relationship).

  • Punishment often models and teaches power as means of controlling another person (better to model elements of a healthy relationship).

  • Punishment often promotes avoidance and emotional reaction (better to learn conflict resolution & emotional regulation).

  • Punishment is a bad behavior “stopper.” It is not a good behavior “starter upper” (Punishment does not teach the behaviors you want repeated)

  • Screaming, swearing, threatening, sarcasm, hitting, or displaying anger if used are being modeled for the child and therefore learned by the child – “this is how to make others do what you want”