There’s always a lot of discourse in the parenting world about behaviour. When I start work with parents they have all kinds of approaches to their children’s behaviour, some of which obviously work better than others.
Combine that with all the behaviour tips available online and parenting can be a confusing job. So here are 6 tips for well-behaved kids that you may not have thought of.
Tip #1 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids: Listen to your gut instinct.
Humanity has been on this earth in its present form some 100,000 years. Up until about 100 years ago, outside advice on parenting was very limited. You got extra advice when you needed it from your mom or your granny. Otherwise, family members trusted you to ‘get on with it’ and most likely you would have done, seeing as what they were really were encouraging you to do was listen to your own instinct.
When parents started getting outside advice they did some pretty whacky things like hanging babies outside the window on specially designed trays to get fresh air. However, babies survived and life went on.
That’s a good tip to remember. Life, unless you really muck up or are horribly unlucky, will go on. A few mistakes here and there don’t mean the end of the world although hanging children out of the window seems to me to be fraught with danger.
Why do I share this point? Well, because parents now often parent by byte. They take all the latest and greatest scientific advice and spend so much time fretting over what they should and shouldn’t do that they forget the basics and completely override their own instinct. What does that do to the kids? It makes them nervous, because if as a parent you are not confident about what you’re doing, the kids won’t be either.
Kids need strong and confident leadership. If they don’t get it, they’ll show it through their behaviour.
Tip #2 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids: Give them something to do.
Now when I say give them something to do, I don’t mean entertain them all day. You see, there’s entertainment and there’s ordinary play and some of that ordinary play can be directed toward making them feel terrific and teaching them to ‘help’ you at the same time. Ok, so they won’t be very helpful to start. I get that but believe me, take the time early on and you’ll be very happy when your child can confidently take out the garbage at nine.
It’s a win win because while you enable your child to feel proud and self confident about their abilities, you also help them fulfil a very important human need to be a contributing member of your community.
Tip # 3 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids: It takes a village.
There’s truth in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. It does but frequently parents feel like the village is filled with a bunch of judgmental, nosey parkers who are just waiting to pounce on their poor child for some perceived slight.
One of the hardest things to do when things go wrong publicly is to not automatically take your child’s side and to consider different points of view before making your own judgement. It’s tough because that huge ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’ protection wall goes up.
But remember, your child is listening and watching you and if they’ve done something wrong and you support them, you are simply going to create more of that behaviour because you are getting between your child and the natural consequences of their actions.
Tip # 4 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids. Learn to love the word, ‘No.’
It’s funny but one lady I worked with said so many ‘no’s’ in a day that her child had ceased to listen. Of course she had no idea why the word had no effect or that she was even doing it and was very surprised when I explained why her little guy had ceased to pay attention. I think I counted 40 uses of the word in an hour if I remember correctly and they were said in every tone of voice, from happy to sad.
In an effort to avoid the word ‘no,’ people often go in the opposite direction.
Saying ‘no’ they worry might hurt their child and they’re often concerned about being seen as the ‘bad guy.’ All parents have to be the ‘bad guy’ sometimes. It doesn’t mean you say ‘no’ just for the sake of it and the word should be a thoughtful response, but once you’ve said it, stick to it and never avoid it in the hopes of preventing a meltdown.
If you’re consistent in your actions, they’ll not only listen in the meantime but they’ll respect you more for it eventually.
Tip # 5 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids: Less is often more.
To say ‘less is often more’ when it comes to parenting probably strikes you as odd. How can a parent that does less be in anyway as good as a parent that does more? Well, because parenting has become like some crazy treadmill with exhausted parents all over the western world desperately trying to get off but terrified that they will be perceived as less than good parents if they do.
This all comes down to expectations. We now expect kids to have the world at their feet, starting off with a beautiful nursery for them to arrive in when frankly, they’d be just as happy in a box and wouldn’t know the difference anyway. What do kids really need? The answer to that is simple and the best part is it’s also instinctual.
They need love, cuddles, leadership, boundaries, the basics taken care of and play. They need you as strong leaders pointing the way and showing them how. Everything else, I’d evaluate on merit.
Tip # 6 of 6 tips for well-behaved kids: Enjoy them.
You might think it’s strange that I suggest enjoying your kids but the sad part is that more and more often I’m seeing people who aren’t enjoying being parents at all. It’s even reflected in the media and it’s a disturbing phenomena which I think is directly linked to the crazy ‘super parent’ attitude referred to above.
Kids are supposed to be fun. Yes, sure they can be annoying too and you can expect to have odd days that are horrendous. Still whilst parenthood is the hardest work you’ll ever do, it should at least be gratifying.
Sometimes, as parents we get so overwhelmed by everyone’s expectations that we fail to notice the little things, the moments of sheer joy that can and should accompany children. To find those moments, do silly things. Find the fun. Sing and splash in puddles in the rain. Climb trees. Make silly faces and hide. Be crazy. Kids love crazy.
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the day to day that it all becomes too serious and we lose the joy. Anything that avoids that is a good thing. My favourite was to lie under a blanket outside on a cool night, look at the stars and cuddle. Mine are grown now and I so miss that.
Would you like to know the how important it is to provide downtime for your kids? Read my article, ‘Why kids need downtime.’ Would you like to know more about what I do and how I can help your family? Go to the main page and watch my video.