Tag Archive for routine

Get Your Child on the Sleepy Train

Sleep is crucial for a child’s healthy development and mental health. (See Your Teen & The Importance of Sleep to learn how important sleep is for teen health.) Unfortunately, our world of constant busy-ness and digital stimuli does not lend itself well to healthy sleep routines. In fact, they make it all the more important for parents to help their children develop a healthy, effective, and independent bed-time routine. Even then, our children sometimes “lose the routine” because of bad dreams, transitions, changes in schedule…all kinds of things can impact the routine. I recently discovered three ideas to help establish an effective bed-time routine or get it back on track after it has been derailed. Maybe they will help in your family.

  • Have some practice sessions. We encourage our children to practice their sports, their spelling, their instruments. Why not practice their bedtime routine? These practice sessions don’t actually involve going to sleep. But they do involve going through the pre-bedtime routine. Brushing teeth, saying prayers, getting a snack, reading a book…whatever the routine you have established, go through it during the daytime. As you do, acknowledge how well your child does each step. Gush a little over their efforts and success. Make it fun and light-hearted. You want them to enjoy the routine and find it rewarding in and of itself.
  • Take a break. As you go through your child’s bedtime routine, lie down with them. Then let them know you need to take care of something (like use the restroom or turn off a light) and will be back in a minute. Leave the room, do something that takes a minute or so, return to your child, and lay back down with them. The next night leave for two minutes. The third night, 3 minutes. Each night leave for a minute or so longer. You get the idea. Always return just as you said but let the “break” take longer and longer. Your child will become more independent falling asleep alone.
  • “Excuse me” is an exercise very much like the take a break. However, in this one you note some chore (a 15-20 minute job) you have to get done. You let your child know you’re going to go take care of it and then come back in to check on them. Always keep your promise and come back to check. Even if they fall asleep (which we hope they do), check in and give them a kiss on the forehead. The next morning, acknowledge that they had fallen asleep when you returned. Let them know you kissed them on the forehead and, most important of all, let them know how proud you are of their ability to go to sleep on their own.

These ideas are not difficult. They take some time on your part as a parent. But, think of yourself as their sleep coach. Coaches always take a little time to teach their players a new skill. An added benefit of being your child’s sleep coach? You get to enjoy the time you spend with your child  coaching them in the skill of sleep. (In fact, see The Top 4 Times for Parent-Child Talks for the best times to connect with your child.) Sleep tight.

How to Discipline Before You Even Need To

I don’t know about you but I hate to see my children upset, struggling, or in pain. Still, sometimes they misbehave and suffer as a result of that misbehavior. They make foolish choices and struggle with the consequences. As hard as it is to watch, it’s in their best interest to let them suffer. I have, however, discovered a way to limit those moments of suffering and thus our own struggle with watching them suffer. Limit them, I say, NOT eliminate them. It’s a way to teach them disciplined behavior and how to make wise daily actions before trouble begins. It’s not 100% successful, but it certainly made a huge difference in our home and in any home in which I’ve see it implemented. I’m talking about establishing daily routines.

Routines will help your children and your family discipline before you even need to. Many of the benefits of routines stem from the predictability they add to family life. When children know what to expect, positive things happen. One great benefit of routines is watching your children learn disciplined behavior before suffering the consequences of poor choices! Let me share a few other benefits your children will experience when you establish healthy routines.

  • Children become more cooperative and less oppositional with routines in place. Power struggles decrease as routines become the norm. Morning routines replace nagging. Bed time routines replace fighting. Children learn to follow the routine because “that’s what’s next” and what’s next is a healthy, wise lifestyle choice.
  • Children gain a sense of mastery and independence with routines in place. As children learn the routine, they require less prompting. They learn to do more on their own. For instance, a dinner routine which includes setting the table, clearing the dishes, and loading the dishwasher becomes a family activity in which everyone participates and learns how to complete each step independently if needed. A morning routine contributes to competent self-care and an independent ability to prepare for the day, which will be a great benefit to the whole family in middle school, high school, and college.
  • Children gain a sense of security from healthy routines. Routines add predictability to the day. When transitions and changes occur, those routines add stability. Predictability and stability equal safety and security for children. Children who feel safe and secure in the family listen better and misbehave less often. For instance, children who know their parent will read with them before they go to sleep experience a sense of safety in the relationship that allows them to open up and talk about the important events of their life and day.
  • Children gain a stronger identity through routines. Routines help define who we are as a family and as individuals. We are ‘readers’ who read together every night. We are ‘independent people’ who don’t need our mom to get us up for school every day. We are family, supporting one another as we talk during family meals. We are ‘campers’ who go camping one a month. We are ‘people of faith’ who practice our daily and weekly prayers and services. You get the idea: routines build identity.
  • Children bond with family through routines. Family dinners, bedtime routines, routines of taking leave, routines of reunion, and holiday routines all provide the opportunity to bond with family and express love and affection for one another. They provide the time to share experiences, talk about the day, and practice values together.

Overall, routines provide the structure and opportunity to teach appropriate behavior. They allow you to discipline even before it’s necessary! (For more ideas on the benefit of routines and what routines you can establish read Mundane Opportunities for Quality Time and Add Meaning to Life by Building Routine.)

Add Meaning to Life by Building Routine?

Meaning and routine…those are two words we don’t often think of together. Instead, we think of routine as dull, the “same old thing,” and “stuck in a rut.”  Who finds meaning in that? Research, on the other hand, suggests that we gain a greater sense of meaning in our lives when we practice routines. Yes, routines…like starting the day with a simple prayer or daily exercise, walking the same route to work each day or reading a chapter before bed, Friday night pizza or a cup of coffee each morning…routines! Rather than making life dull and predictable, research tells us that such routines actually make life more meaningful! (Read Everyday Routines Make Life Feel More Meaningful and A New Psychological Insight Makes Me Feel Much Less Boring for more). “How can that be?” you ask.

  • Daily routines help us develop a sense of coherence, a sense of self that remains the same over time and place. Routines help us define “who I am” and “what I do.” We become a person who enjoys coffee or a person who enjoys taking a walk. We come to know ourselves as a person who enjoys quiet times of prayer. Whatever routine we develop becomes part of our identity, our sense of self that remains the same across time and place. Of course, this means we need to use caution in developing our routines. We will do best to develop routines that contribute to a positive sense of self. After all, who wants to be the person known as a grumbler because they start every day with complaint? A positive daily routine, on the other hand, can help us develop a stable and positive identity.
  • Daily routines also build a sense of predictability into life. Having a sense of predictability, having an idea of “what comes next,” provides a sense of safety, especially for children. This sense of safety provides an anchor that frees us to take healthy risks in other areas of our lives…which leads to the next point.
  • Daily routines free us to pursue significant goals in our lives. Over time, the routines become a natural part of our day. We don’t have to waste mental energy remembering to do them or even how to do them. Instead, we can focus our energies on goals we consider significant and important to living out our values.
  • Of course, having the energy and thought to pursue more significant goals also gives our life a greater sense of purpose. We can thank daily routines for making this possible.
  • Daily routines for families also provide regular times to develop family relationships, which translates into greater family identity and family intimacy.

In other words, routines have a ripple effect. Positive routines help build a positive identity and a sense of predictability which allows us to pursue significant goals and build a greater sense of purpose. Family routines help build family identity and family intimacy. So, if you really want to help your family and your children build a greater sense of meaning in life, build family routines! Here are a few your children and your family might enjoy.

  • A daily family meal.
  • Bedtime prayers.
  • Taking time each night to read with your children.
  • The “good-bye kiss.”
  • The “I’m home kiss.”
  • Fishing on the weekend.
  • Friday pizza night.
  • Worship weekly.

You get the idea. The kinds of healthy routines you can develop are limited only by your imagination. Whatever you choose, get on out there and establish some family routines. Your family will benefit from gaining a sense of identity and personal meaning. Your children will benefit from a greater sense of identity and personal meaning. You will benefit from enjoying it all!

Discipline Tool You Can’t Live Without

Routines represent one of a parent’s best and most influential disciplinary tool. We discipline to teach our children responsibility, time management, and consideration of other people. In other words, we discipline to promote mature behavior. Routines do all this and more. Consider some of the disciplinary lessons of routines.Mother And Son Doing Laundry

  • Routines give children a sense of security. Children like consistency. They like to know “what’s next.” Routines provide consistency and knowledge of “what’s next,” resulting in a sense of safety and security. A strong sense of security translates to fewer behavior problems.
  • Routines reduce power struggles between parent and child. Once a routine is in place, children follow through more easily. The struggle over bedtime, brushing teeth or clearing the table lessens because “it’s just what we do in our family.” And, while you engage in routines like clearing the table, you have time to connect as a family.
  • Routines help children gain independence. Want your children to develop healthy habits like taking a shower, brushing their teeth, doing their homework, getting up on their own? A good way to get it all started is to set up a routine and follow it. In time, your children will follow the routine independently. Start early and build the routine as they age. You’ll be pleased with their independence as middle schoolers. As an added bonus, learning routines will help your children learn to manage their time.
  • Routines help children plan ahead. Routines involve a series of activities, one activity leading to the next. Within that framework, children look forward, plan ahead, to the next activity within the routine. Even more, you can end a routine with an enjoyable reward like “thank you,” “well-done,” or a fun interaction. When that happens, you’ve added anticipation of reward into the mix…and taught the benefit of getting work done so you can have uninterrupted fun!
  • Routines help you and your children connect at various times throughout the day. Morning routines, bedtime routines, and transitions routines provide times to connect throughout the day. When you add a time of connection into each of these routines, each activity will go more smoothly AND you will experience more intimate interactions with your children.

Hopefully you are ready to establish routines in your home after reviewing these benefits. So, here are five routines I believe very beneficial to every family. Develop each to meet your family’s styles and needs.

  1. The Family Meal Routine. Families that eat at least 3-5 meals together each week experience many benefits (see The Lost Art of Family Meals for more on benefits). The family meal ritual includes much more than eating. It includes preparation, clean up, and lots of family interaction.
  2. The Morning Routine. A morning routine will teach your children to get ready for the day independently. Most importantly, the morning routine will set the tone for the rest of the day. So, be sure to include at least a little positive interaction into this routine. (Read Prime Your Child for a Good School Day for more on setting up a morning routine.)
  3. Taking Leave Routine. Taking leave routines are quick and easy. They provide a way to say good-bye as each family member goes their separate way for the day. A simple hug and kiss is all it takes for this routine, but the benefits are immense (like growing intimacy, sense of security, sense of value).
  4. Reconnecting Routines. From infancy through adulthood, we look for ways to reconnect after a time of separation or in response to some fear. Reconnecting confirms our sense of security and boosts our confidence. A reconnecting routine involves physical contact (like a hug or kiss) and simple, quality conversation. This routine is simple, but will have a profound impact on your family.
  5. Bedtime Routine. Many parents find the bedtime routine one of the most rewarding of all routines. Children open up and talk about the day. They share meaningful insights about their fears and joys. Parent and child form a more intimate relationship during this routine. After a good bedtime routine, children can drift off to sleep with a profound sense of connection and an experience of enjoyable intimacy. (Read Top Four Times for Parent-Child Talks for more on bedtime routines.)

Start Your Children’s Day with a Memory Boost

Christmas break will soon be over and our children will soon be returning to school for a new semester. How can we help them have the best day in school? Is there a way to boost their memory and increase decision-making abilities? If so, doing so could benefit their academic happy brother and sister laughing isolated on the whiteachievement and social interactions. And, a recent study suggests a possibility to actually do this (click here for PsyBlog review)! Although this study looked specifically at older adults, the review notes several studies suggest the same is true for young adults and common sense tells us it is true for children and youth. What boosts memory and decision-making abilities? Surprisingly, it is nothing extravagant or complex. In order to increase memory and positive decision-making ability in our children before school is to enhance their positive mood. Sounds simple; but, if you have kids, you know how complex it actually is to enhance a positive mood in the morning for children and teens.  How can you enhance a positive mood in your children? Here are a few ideas:

  • Prepare the night before. Set out clothes. Pack lunches. Put homework in the backpack. Do as much as you can the night before to eliminate the morning rush.
  • Do not discuss emotionally loaded topics in the morning before school. Save the potentially conflictual issues for another time and place. And, when you do have the hard discussions, don’t lecture.
  • Enjoy a healthy breakfast. A good meal helps increase positive moods. Talk with your children about the foods they prefer for breakfast and have those foods available.
  • Be aware of your children’s sensitivities. Some children like quieter mornings. Some children are irritated by bright lights in the morning. Be aware of these sensitivities and set up the environment accordingly. If necessary, dim the lights and turn down the radio. These simple steps may help produce a positive mood which can boost memory and decision-making at school.
  • Get up early enough that your children do not have to rush. Just 15-minutes earlier can provide a buffer of time to reduce stress and enhance positive mood.

Helping to enhance positive mood not only helps prepare for a positive school experience, but may help in those difficult discussions outside of school. When you need to discuss difficult topics with your children, increasing their positive mood may enhance that discussion. Increasing a positive mood in your children before such a discussion may help them make better decisions and remember the decision afterwards. So, tell a joke. Share a story. Sit down for a snack. Enjoy an activity together during the discussion. Whatever will increase their positive mood may also help the conversation go better and the outcome more enjoyable.

Prime Your Children for a Good School Day

School has begun. That means getting our children up in the morning and off to school on time. If that isn’t hard enough, we want to get them off in the morning while everyone stays in a good mood. Not an easy task. However, there are steps we can take to make the morning go smoother and prime our children for a better day, a day that starts with a good mood. Here are six suggestions to help.

  • Two Boys Going into SchoolA smooth morning routine begins with an effective bedtime routine. Help your children get to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest. This may mean turning all devices off and relaxing together for an hour before bedtime. Read a book together. Talk about the day. Snuggle. Keep your children’s bedroom conducive for sleep as well. This may mean no TV, video games, or cell phones in the bedroom.
  • Prepare what you can the night before. Lay out the clothes. Pack the lunches. Put homework, books, and school supplies into backpacks before going to bed. Teaching your children to pack for school the night before also teaches them to think ahead and prepare for life in general.
  • Get your older children their own alarm clock. Help your children think about how much time they need to get ready. Teach them to set their alarm on their own. Then, allow them to accept the responsibility of getting up on their own.
  • If they struggle to complete their morning routine, use something they find interesting to set up a “challenge” for them. For instance, our daughter liked Dragon Tales. We printed a picture of one of her favorite dragons and turned it into a simple puzzle. We gave her one puzzle piece for each part of the routine she completed—brushing her teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc. When she finished her morning routine, she had completed a picture of her favorite dragon. This helped motivate her to keep working her way through the routine. Use whatever interests your children to motivate them through the morning routine.
  • Let them suffer their own consequences…especially as they get older. If they run late, don’t rush to make up their lost time. Let them suffer the consequences of arriving at school late. Let them experience the discomfort of getting up late and rushing through the morning routine, possibly missing their shower or having to eat as they run out the door. Don’t rescue them if, in their rush, they forget to take something to school. We all learn from the consequences of our mistakes. Give your child the opportunity and the dignity to do the same.
  • Establishing a good morning routine sets the pace for the rest of the day. It primes our day and our children’s day. If you’re grumpy, they’ll be grumpy too. Act in a way that will encourage your children toward a positive day. Be kind. Encourage. Share a loving hug as they leave for the day.

 

These six simple steps can help your children’s morning routine go more smoothly. They will also help you build a more positive relationship with your children and prime them for a better day.

The Gift Every Child Wants (& Only You Can Give)

All children desire this gift, but very few cannot articulate it. This gift will provide your children with an amazing sense of security. Although it demands some effort, it will provide African American Couple Laughing On The Floorimmeasurable benefits to you and your children throughout your lifetimes. In fact, your children will benefit from this gift even after you have passed away. Your grandchildren can even benefit from this gift! And, only you can give this gift to your children. Sounds like an expensive gift, doesn’t it? It does carry a price; but the price is mostly measured in the coinage of effort. What is this amazing gift your children desire? What is this gift that carries such great benefits with it? The gift of having parents with a healthy marriage! Let me “unwrap this gift” a little…just to give you a peek into its benefits.

 

When a marriage relationship is filled with strained and succumbing to the pull of distraction, the home is filled with tension. When the home is filled with tension, children experience stress. Stress creates insecurity. A healthy marriage, on the other hand, lays the foundation for peace and harmony in the home.  Children experience this peace and harmony as security. They feel safe. Moreover, children feel valued and worthy when outside distractions do not impinge on their family life. They desire to remain a part of this peaceful, harmonious home founded on a healthy marriage.

 

When a marriage is filled with constant conflict and on the verge of collapse, the future of the family, your children’s safe haven, becomes doubtful. Children who have doubts about the future stability of their safe haven feel insecure. As a result, they invest all their energy trying to secure the pillars of their safe haven, you. They invest their energy in your happiness and your marriage rather than investing in their own growth and development, their maturity, and their future. When a marriage is strong and disagreements openly resolved, the future of your children’s safe haven is certain. With confidence in their family’s future, children feel secure enough to explore their world and their selves. They feel safe enough to invest energy in growing their interests and their healthy future lives, which will ultimately bring happiness to the whole family.

 

When a marriage is in question and spouses at war with one another, children feel responsible to make peace.  They assume a parental role and strive to become the one who negotiates peace between their parents.  When they do not succeed (and they cannot succeed because it is beyond their ability to make peace between warring parents), children begin to feel guilty and anxious. They take the blame for their parents’ failure and unhappiness. They begin to feel inadequate since they cannot “fix” the family. They feel insecure both in relation to others (like their battling parents) and themselves (since they feel inadequate to fix even their home). In a strong marriage, on the other hand, children witness their parents resolving conflict and creating peace in the home. This peace produces a sense of security that allows “kids to be kids.”  It provides a strong foundation from which children can explore, achieve, learn, and grow confident in the trustworthiness of those around them as well as a trust in themselves.

 

You children desire the gift of living with parents who do the work necessary to build a strong, healthy marriage. Even more, they deserve this gift. When you invest in your marriage, you give your children the gift they desire more than they even know; and, you give them the added gifts of peace of mind, a sense of security, and a confidence in themselves and their future. Do your children a huge favor. Get your spouse and wrap up a beautiful, healthy marriage as a gift for them to witness and receive.

Nurture Your Children’s Success

Every parent wants to raise successful children. We want children who work to the best of their ability, children who willingly face a challenge and learn from it. However, 36% of children in the US will not attempt a difficult, strenuous task. Instead, they quit. Take a moment and think of the irony. We want to raise hard-working, successful children, but only 64% of us are doing so. The remaining 36% of us are raising quitters! That’s harsh…and somewhat frightening. I have to ask myself, how can I be in the 64% who raise hard-working, successful children? How can I be sure to raise children willing to face a challenge and learn rather helping to raise a generation of quitters? A study of nearly 50,000 participants (read more here) may provide us with the answers we seek.  This study suggests the following actions can help us raise hard-working children.

  1. Establish clear, respectful structure in your home. A structured home includes age appropriate rules and routines. Children given structure and routines tend to outperform peers without structured routines. And, consistently enforced limits allow children the sense of security needed to explore, learn, and grow.
  2. African American Family Parents and ChildrenLet your children make choices AND experience the consequences of their choices. Allow your children the freedom to make mistakes. But don’t stop there. Support their learning from those mistakes as well. Enduring the pain of watching our children suffer the consequences of bad choices can lead to us rejoicing in the wisdom they carve out of that learning experience. Children make good choices, too. Don’t forget to celebrate the victories they experience as the result of those good decisions.
  3. Praise your children for their hard-work and effort, not the outcome. Whether they succeed or fall short, acknowledge your children’s effort and persistence. As you do, they learn the value of persistence and hard-work, both of which lead to greater success in the long run. Praise them for trying new things as well, even if they do poorly at first. This will teach your children to take reasonable risks, which also leads to greater success in the long run. (see 5 Mistakes to Avoid and Ruin Your Child with Praise).
  4. Keep screen time to a minimum. Screen time takes away from family time. Additionally, grade point averages began to decrease slightly after 30-45 minutes of screen time a day. After two hours of screen time, a more dramatic drop in grades began to occur and by four hours of screen time grades dropped a whole letter grade. More time spent on video games and TV viewing also leads to less sleep and more emotional volatility. Replace screen time with family time (Learn more in New Teacher in Town).
  5. Enjoy family time. Family time contributes to higher grade point averages and more emotional stability. Family dinners, attending religious services together, and playing board games, in particular, promoted healthy outcomes. If you struggle for family time ideas, check out some of our Family Fun night ideas.

 

These five practices will nurture your children’s success and help you raise hard-working, successful children.

Trying Out for Family Happiness

We all want to live in a happy family. Happy families enjoy one another’s company more than unhappy families do. They resolve arguments and outside stresses more quickly and easily as well. Happy families produce happy people. Happiness is good for us, too. People Trying Out 400who learn the skills of happiness tend to become more successful. They get better performance reviews. They have more satisfying marriages. Happy people live longer and healthier lives. I don’t know about you, but I want these benefits. I want my spouse and kids to have these benefits as well! And, the best place to learn happiness is in the home
with our family. It begins with acceptance and can include simple skills like exercise and setting goals. “Trying out” also raises the level of family happiness.  I don’t mean “trying out” in the sense of “trying out” for a position on a sport’s team or “trying out” for a part in the musical. “Trying out” in this sense means to keep on learning new things. “Try out” something new, just for the fun of it. Trying new things engages our curiosity…and curiosity is one of the top 5 “basic human strengths” associated with an overall life of fulfillment and happiness! Trying new things also allows us to accomplish new things. Accomplishments lead to greater self-confidence. Accomplishment and confidence contribute to overall happiness. So, let’s start “trying out” new things to boost our family happiness. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

  • Turn something old into something new. All families have their routine activities. Sometimes these activities can become too routine and humdrum (like the family meal); or, even worse, they become so routine we disliked them (like washing the dishes). Next time your family engages in one of these routine activities, look for and talk about three novel or unexpected aspects of the activity. Focus on the sounds, the facial expressions of your family members, the smells, or the physical sensations of the experience. For instance, how do the bubbles of the dish soap feel? Can you make the bubbles float into the air? Sing a song about the activity. Can you make music with the dishes as you clean them? Try telling stories to make your family laugh during dinner? You get the idea. Look for the humorous, the novel, and the overlooked aspects of the old routine activity. When you discover one, shout it out for all to hear.
  • Learn the family stats. Learn something new about your spouse, kids, and parents. What are their current interests? What are their current challenges? What are their greatest joys? What family stories have your children never heard but speak of fun or resilience in your family heritage? How have your spouse and children grown? What have they learned? What excites them? How have they changed since last year?
  • Dream. As you spend time together, begin to dream. Think about activities you would like to “try out.” Have you tried skiing or hiking? Paint ball or fishing? Why not take the family out and give it a shot? You could read a book that no one has read but you think you’d all enjoy. Take a trip to a place you have never visited. Try cooking a type of food you have never eaten—Asian, Middle Eastern, French, Brazilian, etc. Plan a vacation to someplace you have never been. Whether the Bahamas, Yellowstone Park, Ohiopyle, Europe, or Ohio, plan the trip as a family.
  • Live the dream. After you have planned out any one of your dream ideas, do it. Enjoy the ethnic feast, the dream vacation, and the simple activity. Have fun “trying out” something new.

What are some new things your family has “tried out” to boost your happiness?

Parents, Get Out of the Reaction Rut

Many parents believe that a good punishment will end misbehavior. “If the punishment is military policepowerful enough, children will learn their lesson.” “If we just have enough rules, our children will be good.” Unfortunately, these statements are not true. The key to addressing our children’s misbehavior is NOT punishment. In fact, there is no single key to addressing misbehavior. Addressing misbehavior is actually more like putting a puzzle together…there are many parts to the puzzle and they have to be assembled in the right way to make a complete picture.  One piece of that puzzle is realizing the need to address the before, during, and after phases of behavior.

 

The Before Phase: We can avoid many incidents of misbehavior simply by planning ahead and preparing our children for upcoming events. We do this naturally with toddlers when we put safety locks on cupboards even before we bring them home from the hospital or remember to take their favorite blanket on our trip to grandma’s house before they even ask about it. As our children grow, we continue to address potential problem areas by establishing routines. For instance, a good bedtime routine can prevent many difficulties that occur around the process of getting our children to bed.  Mealtime routines, morning routines, and cleaning routines all help prevent unwanted behaviors as well as teaching daily life skills. Parents can also prevent unwanted behaviors during the “Before Phase” by talking with their children about “what’s next.” For instance, explaining the purpose of a “store run” as well as the expected behavior can often prevent misbehavior. If there is an especially problematic situation that you consistently run into, you may want to role play that event at home. You can then take a few “trial runs” in which you simply go through the motions of an activity without having to accomplish any particular goal (like going through a grocery store without any intention of buying anything). Practicing behaviors in the Before Phase can prevent many unwanted behaviors and teach desired behaviors at the same time.

 

The During Phase: No matter how much we plan ahead, our children will still misbehave at times. The key to responding during the event is to intervene rapidly and calmly to redirect the unwanted behavior. Intervene rapidly. Intervene as early in the behavior as you can. Do not let the behavior escalate; intervene early. Intervene calmly. Children follow a parent’s lead. If the parent escalates, the child escalates. If the parent stays calm, there is a greater chance the child will calm.  Redirect the behavior. Rather than simply complain about the misbehavior and tell them to stop, redirect them to another more appropriate behavior. Doing so offers your child a solution to the question, “What can I do then?”

Woman - Tough Rapper

The After Phase: After the misbehavior has stopped and all parties have calmed down, discuss what happened. The After Phase is a wonderful time for teaching. Discuss why the misbehavior is not wanted, restate the expectations and boundaries. Teach your children what other behaviors (appropriate behaviors) they can engage in. An important and often overlooked aspect of teaching appropriate behavior is to set firm limits and clear expectations while showing empathy and compassion for your children’s desires. Help them learn that you empathize with their feelings, wants, and desire, but you also have firm behavioral limits and expectations that need to be met. For instance, you empathize with their anger, but have a clear expectation of appropriate ways to express anger…teach them the expectation. Or, you empathize with their boredom and their desire to run around, but have clear limits on the appropriate places and activities in which running around is allowed…teach them the limits and appropriate activities for the appropriate place.

 

Responding to misbehavior in the Before Phase, the During Phase, and the After Phase will help you get out of the rut of reacting to misbehavior and into the joy of teaching the behavior you desire for your children.

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