Sunday, July 10, 2011

What would you like to change about your child?

I received an interesting email from Growing Child today about changing the behavior of your child. I found it to be interesting, so I copied it into my blog :0)  Please read it and let me know what you thin. It suggests there is a part two, so when I get it I will re-post it as well.

Quick! What's the one thing you would like to change about your child?
Okay. Now, why do you want to change it?
Chances are, it's because that behavior causes the worst side of you to come out, as you nag incessantly. When considering behaviors to change, there are several things to ask yourself first.

Is this behavior mostly a result of where your child is on the developmental ladder? That is, does your child behave in this annoying way mostly because of where he/she is in developmental ability or task?
An example of this would be the two-year-old who resists nearly every suggestion from a parent. Difficult as it may be to live with such defiance, a little knowledge will confirm that this is pretty typical behavior for a youngster who is forming a sense of autonomy.

Developmental limitations may frustrate your child and not permit more mature actions. So, refresh your developmental knowledge to learn whether or not this behavior is a product of development.
If you decide that the behavior falls into the developmental category, accept the fact that you will not be able to change the behavior, but that you can learn to adopt some responses that may preserve your sanity and allow your child to both work at the developmental level and not receive continual negative feedback.
An example of this would be to allow more choices for the two-year-old, such as choosing which shirt to wear or which cup to use. A little power shared often helps defuse a power struggle.

If you have concluded that it is not a developmental issue, ask yourself whether the behavior is part of your child's unique temperament. While children don't directly inherit personality, they are born with hard-wired temperaments that influence their characteristic patterns of behavior.
Some children are more naturally boisterous and outgoing, some much quieter, finding it easier to comply. Some children have a tendency to be quite inflexible and rigid, while others happily go with the flow.
Consider the behaviors that have been part of your child since birth. Any parent would do much better recognizing innate temperament and learning how to adapt to that, rather than trying to meet it headlong with often disastrous results.

Another thing to ask yourself before you launch into behavioral change is, just why you have a problem with it? What are your expectations for behavior, where do these expectations come from, and are they reasonable/appropriate?
Sometimes others have influenced our standards, by earlier experiences, or by personal preferences. Discovering why certain behaviors push our particular buttons may be important learning for parents, and we learn whose problem it really is.

When you have gone through this reflection process, you may discover one of several things:
1. Either the behavior is not so important or so permanent as to necessitate efforts to change it; or
2. Strategic responses have rendered the behavior more tolerable; or
3. This really is a behavior that needs some modification.
If this latter answer is the one you come up with, then it's time to consider effective ways of changing behavior. More about this in the next article.

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