I have two grown up children who have been praised on their behaviour and conduct throughout their lives; over the years I have been asked many times ‘How do you do it?’ Well for me it was a case of choosing a strategy and sticking with it, I was a single parent for much of my children’s growing up and I felt that it was important to make sure they, nor myself, became another statistic.
In my opinion children are never too young to lay down some expectations, from when my children were very young until now I expect the best of them at all times. I tried not to make excuses for their behaviour like; ‘oh she’s tired, he’s hungry’ because this gives children a get out clause, they will soon be saying but I’m tired mum!
I didn’t have a long list of complicated rules, I had a few simple rules which they had to follow; they had to be polite and courteous to everyone, they couldn’t have a pudding unless they’d eaten their meal and they had to help around the house to receive their pocket money. The rules have altered a little but not until they were earning money!
If they did something wrong they were spoken to about it and depending on the offence they would receive a punishment, three things are key here with regards to dealing with negative behaviour;
Remain CALM do not over react to what has happened – if they accidentally knocked over a drink, remain calm and ask for their help in cleaning it up; If they kicked it over then that is another issue. If you over react to something like this you will be shouting all the time, which will lead to a poorer relationship with your child and ultimately as they grow into adolescence this will be the basis for your communication.
CARRY THROUGH Find a punishment which works for your child – for my two it was usually going to bed early, they hated it; so for each time they were rude or misbehaved they had to go bed 15 minutes earlier than normal. It is only ever effective if you carry out the punishment otherwise you lose your power and credibility each time you don’t carry through with the punishment. Also you need to let the punishment fit the crime; don’t stop them going to a big event if they have done something minor.
BE CONSISTENT A child needs to know where they stand with you, so you must be consistent with what you expect to see from them and how you conduct yourself around them. What you are aiming for is that they will know what punishment is coming before you have spoken because you have remained consistent with your approaches.
So basically the three C’s; calm, carry through and consistent!
(Mistakes we make as parents is a whole other blog!)