Most dealing with difficult people training focuses on difficult coworkers, superiors, or clients. One area often overlooked is dealing with the difficult behavior of children, and yet that is probably the biggest challenge working parents face. The article below, taken from healthandgoodness.com addresses seven things parents can do to deal with children who are being difficult.
Dealing with Difficult Children by Karen Doherty and Georgia Coleridge
Does your child ever get moody and uncooperative, answer back or have tantrums? Does he ever swear, throw things or kick you? Or refuse to do what he is told?
We’ve got eight children between us, and from interviewing hundreds of mothers and fathers, we know that even nice kids with loving parents can have toddler tantrums, teenage mood swings and everything in between.
Being a parent is so simple when your child behaves well. You talk nicely to him. He talks nicely to you. It’s easy. But when your child is rude or difficult, all the good parenting stuff can fly right out of the window. You can go from Super Parent to the Great Dictator in nought to ten seconds, yelling things you regret, getting no-where and then feeling guilty for hours afterwards. If your child is particularly temperamental, sensitive or headstrong, you’re probably in for a bumpier ride than the average parent, but all children have their off-days.
We’ve found there are SEVEN simple parenting skills that can make a huge difference when your child is being vile or refusing to do what you say.
What can you do when your child is being difficult?
1. Try being a Pause Parent Stay quiet and don’t react
Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do is… NOTHING! If your child is being particularly foul, try taking yourself temporarily out of the fight. Of course you want him to behave, but if he’s not being rational, reasoning isn’t going to work. It’s like shouting into a storm; the words fly right back in your face.This might sound like crazy logic; you’re the parent and you’re in charge. But if the two of you keep clashing, you need to try something different. Instead of reacting to the rudeness, take a deep breath, keep quiet and remind yourself that this unbearable situation is only temporary and you can fix it later.
You can stay in the room without speaking or walk out. It may take five minutes or twenty. But if you wait until you both calm down, you can try again.
2. Try being a Cheerleader Parent Notice the good, ignore the rest
When your child’s wrongdoings are all too obvious, you can feel despondent and overwhelmed. It helps to make a silent decision to start noticing anything he’s doing right. If you try to refocus the beam of your gaze on to the things that are going well, you’ll feel much more positive.Swapping criticisms for compliments will also help improve his behaviour. By consciously ignoring it, the bad stuff is more likely to fade away from lack of attention and he’ll begin to see himself as a child who behaves well.
If you gush and tell him he’s wonderful, he may get suspicious and not believe you, especially if he’s not feeling wonderful inside. Instead be low-key and specific, “Thanks for hanging up your coat,” or try a nod, a smile or quick thumbs-up.
3. Try being a Physical Parent Don’t forget the physical causes of bad behaviour
When your child is in a bad mood, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious. If he’s hungry, overtired or fizzing with cola, his behaviour will almost certainly be affected. Give him a snack, a nap or send him outside to work off some energy and you will almost certainly see an improvement.
Long term, keep an eye on his diet and try and avoid too much sugar, processed food and additives. Some children behave badly because they’ve got food sensitivities. If you feel this might be the case with your child, this website has all sorts of information.
A cuddle, a back rub or a foot massage can also work wonders if your child is being badly behaved.
4. Try being a Tuned-In Parent Accept your child’s feelings
When your child is angry or upset, it helps a lot to listen. But if he’s being very difficult, you may not want to: huge outbursts of emotion can be overwhelming.Unfortunately contradicting him, or telling him off for being silly or obnoxious, simply doesn’t work. He’s far more likely to calm down if you listen sympathetically and repeat back what you hear.
‘I hate Theo.’
‘You must be really angry with him. What happened?’
‘I want to smash his face in. He knocked my elbow in art, I got
in trouble for spilling the water, and it ruined my picture.’
‘No wonder you’re furious with him.’
Agreeing that he’s angry can seem risky. Won’t he just get worse? But like letting steam out of a pressure cooker, acknowledging his anger will almost certainly help him to process it more quickly. If he feels you understand him, he’ll also feel closer and more connected to you.
5. Try being a Sorted Parent Talk to him ahead of time
Before there’s another blow out, tell your child in advance what’s going to happen and how you expect him to behave. Long before you get into the car, turn on the television or go to stay with the grandparents, explain exactly what the limits are.If he’s feeling defensive, he may try to ignore you, provoke you or even stick his fingers in his ears and hum. If necessary, leave it and try again when he’s being more amenable. Eventually you’ll find a time when he’ll listen, and you might be amazed how productive the conversation can be. A bedtime chat works for some parents, or walking home from school.
Giving him a simple set of rules ahead of time, is much more friendly and effective than telling him off when he misbehaves or when the situation is already tense.
6. Try being a Laid-Back Parent Instead of nagging, ask your child for a solution
Encouraging your child to take responsibility for his behaviour is a fundamental step in turning it around. Instead of badgering him to behave, try simply asking him,‘What do you think you should do?’
He might be able to come up with answers to all sorts of problems: sharing out computer time without a fight, finding a way to remember what he needs for school or even keeping his temper when his siblings get on his nerves. If he thinks of the answer, he is more likely to make it work. It can also help him to feel better about himself. Instead of being the rebel who always messes up, he’ll begin to see that he’s the kind of person who has good ideas and can be trusted to carry things through.
7. Try being a Commando Parent Take Charge!
Lastly – here’s the sixty-four-million dollar question. How do you set boundaries or be firm and consistent with a difficult child? When he’s being a pain and won’t back down, threatening can make things worse.
The long answer is that it’s a holistic process. It’s about both changing your relationship so your child no longer sees you as the enemy or a doormat, and changing his view of himself so he knows he is someone who can do the right thing. If the two of you have a volatile and hostile relationship, this may still seem a long way off. But if you lay the groundwork, you’ll get there. The other six parent types will help: pausing, praising, tuning in, getting sorted, encouraging responsibility and checking for any possible physical causes are the stepping stones. They will help you to create a better atmosphere at home.
Once you’re communicating better, your child will be more inclined to listen and his behaviour will improve. You’ll find it’s much easier to tackle problems when there’s a good atmosphere and you feel you’re both on the same side. Even when you clash, you’ll find it a hundred times easier to stay firm and stand your ground. In our book we have hundreds of anecdotes and a multitude of good advice from real parents who’ve done it. Whatever the problem area in your family– table tantrums, homework horrors, bedtime blues or simply a child who’s got out of bed on the wrong side, you’ll find solutions that will work for you.
We’re not saying you can change your child’s temperament entirely, or that you should even want to. His stubbornness, his impulsiveness, his sensitivity – whatever it is that drives you crazy – is what makes him unique. What you can change is the way you respond to him so he feels loved, accepted and understood. As the atmosphere improves, your whole family will benefit.
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