Advice: Parenting a child that beats to a different drum


Children are born with all sorts of temperaments, meaning parents must learn to understand their kids.

But what happens when you have a child that is nothing like you? A child you butt heads with everyday over any and everything?

Your first reaction might be to change your child. You must resist. This will only damage the parent-child relationship and you risk transforming your home into a battle zone.

The first thing parents have to accept is that different is OK. Don’t assume your child can’t thrive simply because they do not react or do things in the same way as you.

Don’t view children who are different in a negative light. Acknowledge the difference and find positive ways to connect with your child.

Parents should always ask themselves, “Is my child’s negative behavior a reaction to something he is feeling?” Children misbehave when feeling attacked or misunderstood.

Here are a few things parents can do when dealing with negative child behavior:

>> Make sure you and your spouse are in agreement of the rules set. Nothing confuses children more than parents who disagree.

>> Word your rules positively. Instead of saying, “No hitting allowed,” try, “Be kind to each other.”

>> Tell your children what to do — not what “not” to do. Say, “Walk please,” instead of, “Don’t run.” “Keep hands to yourself,” instead of, “Don’t hit.” “ Please use your inside voice,” instead of “Don’t yell.”

>> Find opportunities to point out positive behavior. We are quick to bring up everything children do wrong, but we forget to let them know what they do right. The more positive behavior you acknowledge, the more you encourage your child to behave.

>> Use fewer words to tell your children what you want them to do. When you nag or ramble, children stop listening.

>> Let your children know you understand what they are feeling. Emotions need to be acknowledged. When you say, “I see you are angry because you had to share your toy,” your child will feel heard and understand she no longer has to cry out in order to share her feelings. Once your child calms down, you will be able to discuss the importance of sharing.

It’s not always easy to love your children when they misbehave and drive you crazy, but that‘s when your child needs your love and understanding the most.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom.