By Kelly E. Nault, M.A.
It's a fact: parenting is the most demanding job on earth! If you have ever thought about handing in your resignation letter after a particularly trying day with the kids, you're not alone. Fortunately, having effective behavior strategies to use at home can mean the difference between thriving in your job as parent or merely surviving through days and weeks of conflict, chaos and frustration.
We need a license to drive, a license to get married, even a license to fish! Yet anyone who can conceive, can parent. Or can they?
Times have changed and parenting today requires different skills than it did only decades ago. The good news is that these behavior strategies, although not commonly used, are commonsense and can be easily learned!
Behavior Strategies to Keep You Out of the Parenting Deep End
1. Use a “Distraction Action” – This behavior strategy from chapter nine of my book When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You is a favorite among parents, especially those with preschoolers. Instead of saying “No” when a child is doing something you don’t like, redirect their focus to something positive. Say something like, “WOW! Look over here,” or “Would you please help me to…?” The key is to be excited about the new focus and to walk towards it (away from what it is they are focused on).
2. Go on Strike – Most parents do way too much for their children and rob their kids of the opportunity to exercise that all important responsibility muscle by doing things for themselves. The easiest way to stop doing this is to simply go on strike! Just don’t do it anymore. The more you go on strike with a smile on your face, the more this behavior strategy works. For example, making dinner doesn't have to be a solo event. Have the rest of the family make dinner with you (or even for you). This strategy can work for spouses too!
3. Play Together to Stick Together – Why do children act out? You got it! Kids often act out to get attention. The more positive attention they have in their life, the less likely they'll need to negatively act out. Play more with your kids! Laugh more with them! Hug them more! And love them more! Many of the readers of my book are delighted to find there are numerous ways to play together—even while doing chores around the house—and they are often astonished that kids can actually learn to like (and even remember) to do their chores. When you may anything fun for kids, they will gladly jump on board.
Behavior strategies like these can make a world of difference to raising a happy, compassionate and responsible child. They can also mean less stress for you as a parent, which is something all children ultimately want. Be committed to learning new behavior strategies to use at home that bring out everyone’s best. You and your family deserve a home in which all of you thrive—not just simply survive.
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