Mom Tips: Navigating The Out-of-Control Child {Guest Post}

This is a guest post from the Empowering Parents community.

It’s tough for moms to find a balance between authoritative leader and being empathetic. An out-of-control child is every parents worst nightmare and every parent secretly fears the possibility of raising, well… a brat. Navigating a child’s behavior to condition them to good habits is like navigating unpredictable seas. As they say, every good sailor knows not to fight storms and tides when they happen, but to come prepared and able to make troubled waters work to their advantage. Make sure you’re the captain. Hoist the anchor, pull the mast and navigate motherhood with ease and precision.

Establishing and Following Protocol

Every ship has a planned set of actions to take when faced with a problem, rather it be a torn sail or a man-overboard. Moms should be sure to have a set standard for how a home is controlled, and what actions will follow particular behaviors. Having a pre-existing policy that’s communicated clearly to all family members is preventative to arguments and power struggles with children. When children know exactly what the consequences will present themselves for acting a certain way, it will make the child think before they act. With this information, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page and are consistent with implementing rules and consequences. Once you make a rule, stick to it. Backing out of a rule and not adequately following-through will work against you because your kids will not take you seriously.

Be the Captain of Your Ship

As the mother you are in charge of making sure your family, as a unit, runs blissfully. Stay relatively detached when it comes to viewing bad behavior. Moms can get “love goggles” with their kids–not realizing bad behavior when they see it. But as a good captain is compassionate and respectful to his mates, he is sure to know his role as an authority and to clearly see problems when they present themselves. Give children responsibilities and make them feel as though they play an active and important role in the family blueprint. This can establish independence and switch roles from being “mommas boy,” “daddy’s little princess,” or “the baby,” to “family member.” Don’t be a kid’s servant. Offer them options but on a controlled level. Don’t say “what do you want to do today,” say “would you like to do ‘A’ or ‘B.’ This keeps your child from becoming what pastor Ed Young refers to as “Kid:CEO” of your household.

Lead by Example

Children learn the most from parents by watching how they act. Set a good example, embody the characteristics and morals of what you’re teaching your kids and you will not only teach them but will earn respect in the process.

Control the Storm

It’s inevitable that a child is going to have a meltdown at some point. Whether it be a frustrated toddler or an angry teenager, tantrums are going to happen. Setting realistic expectations for children and being a proactive parent is a way to avoid a freak-out from happening. With smaller children be aware that they have limitations, don’t stretch them too thin then grow angry with them when they don’t adhere to your expectations. If you have a full day of errands to run, be sure to include breaks for food and distractions for your little-one. Include children in what your doing, bring snacks and make the experience enjoyable for them.

In the case of a storm breaking-out, the worst thing you can do is react. Period. Responding to tantrums negatively is still a response and no matter how loud or for how long you lecture or yell, the child wins and the negative response reinforces negative behavior. The solution? Walk away, end the discussion. Lecturing a small child who doesn’t understand what you’re talking about is a waste of energy. An older child will be able to comprehend the meaning to the point your making better, but will tune you out relatively fast. No matter how much they cry or sulk, look away. These are normal emotions they should experience.

Give Respect, Praise Good Behavior

Do onto others as you would have like done to you, the golden rule every good captain understands that’s extended to managing children. Receive respect from your children by giving respect. Insulting or demeaning kids is a one-way ticket to a dysfunctional relationship and can have a negative effect on a child’s self-worth. According to WebMD, when kids are disrespected they feel as though they don’t matter and when they don’t feel like their actions matter, they behave poorly. Show children that what they do effects others. When a child behaves well let them know, make them feel proud so that they will want to act well again.

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