From the The LodeStone Center Staff
1. Pick Your Battles
Many times that we have parents seeking advice on changing behaviors in their children or teens, they want to tackle everything at once. Pick one or two problematic behaviors and focus on those until you get them under control. Early successes with one or two behaviors can often help set the stage for further positive changes down the road.
2. Get Your Child’s Input
Children and Teenagers are much more likely to comply with new rules, consequences and rewards if they feel that they had a part in putting them together. When it comes time to implement consequences, it is far less painful if your child knew what to expect beforehand, and had agreed to the punishment in advance. Likewise, rewards that were part of an original plan that included ideas from your child can instill a sense of accomplishment.
3. Be Clear
Children (particularly Teens) look for legal loopholes….that’s their job. When you are setting a new set of rules, you must be 100% clear on what is expected. If it entails cleaning a room, define what “cleaning” means in language that is not open for interpretation. If it involves a time constraint, pick a specific clock in the house that will be used to define “6:00 sharp”.
4. Be Consistent
This may be the most important suggestion of them all. Consistent following of the agreed upon rules by the parent is one of the biggest factors in gaining compliance from your child. If the rewards aren’t given 100% of the time, they lose their incentive-providing power. Likewise, punishments that are inconsistent are ineffective. If you can maintain consistency for the first few weeks, good behavioral habits will start to form, and you will find that you have to implement consequences less often.
5. Use Praise by the Truckload!
Kids thrive on praise from their parents….even the sullen teens that pretend not to! Praise is often the most effective reward that a parent can use, and is a source of positive self-esteem and confidence for your child or teen. Never miss an opportunity to verbally reward compliance with the rules!
We Can Help!
If you are looking for ways to improve your child’s behavior, come meet with one of our child therapists for guidance. We have several therapists that specialize in therapy for children, and have worked with just about any problem imaginable. We can help you predict problems with your behavior plan, strategize about how best to approach your child with these changes, and how best to integrate a new system of rules and rewards into your family and home environment. It can be a complex undertaking, but we’ll help you keep making positive changes and adapting to new problems that surface. With consistency and good professional guidance you can stop focusing on the fighting, and start focusing on the relationship!