TIP OF THE DAY: Child Psychology: Teaching Your Children the Importance of taking your words seriously.
Every now and then we come across children who have ‘LEARNT’ to test our limits and not follow instructions. You can see these are kids who have learnt to OVERHEAR for Example the word ‘NO’ or ‘STOP DOING THAT’. No matter how much you tell them to stop behaving in some ways, even if it is disru…pting, they wouldn’t unless if you RAISE YOUR VOICE or SCARE them in some way.
What do we label these children as?
‘Misbehaved’, ‘Naughty’ ‘Stubborn’…
Where does the problem lie? How do we deal with these children?
It must be disheartening for parents to hear that it is not these children who are primarily at fault. The root cause are the Parents of these children. Really? The Parents?! Yes, a 100%
How are the Parents Liable for such behaviors?
Remember that children learn a lot by modeling and observing us and often our child’s behavior reflects the patterns we subconsciously follow in our life. I will invite the parents of these children to observe 2 of their behaviors:
1. When you refuse your child from doing something and s/he still continues doing it, what do you do?
Do you still keep repeating- “I said stop, don’t do it”… and continue saying it… until you feel frustrated, give up and then finally give in to the child’s behavior?
This is often the pattern these parents are following at home. They are not ‘disciplining’ the child. It is as if they are simply ‘acting’ as if they are attempting to discipline.
A child whose parents simply refuse but do nothing to stop that behavior, learns that his or her parents ‘do not mean what they say’. In Psychology, this relates to CONDITIONING. The child has learnt, s/he can continue to act until the parent loses patience. This child has learnt to test the parent’s patience and persevere in their behavior to finally gain approval. You These children could turn out to be overtly or silently stubborn or rebellious.
APPROPRIATE PARENT BEHAVIOR
On the contrary is a parent who tells the child – “Step behind if you want to watch T.V. Go 3 steps behind”.
The child doesn’t listen and continues to stand up close to the T.V.
The parent simply switches off the T.V. and keeps the remote away.
This child learns that the only way I will now get to watch T.V. is by standing or sitting at a greater distance from the T.V.
This child learns in an implicit way that – ‘When my parent says something, s/he means it!’
Remember parents – DOING has a lot more power than SAYING and again DOING means just modeling that behavior or Teaching them through action but not HOSTILE action or Aggressive behavior. Disciplining is not the same as Punishment.
In the example above, the parent did not have to scold, scream, get angry, keep repeating the instruction.
Parents who constantly repeat their instructions without any action to support it, are teaching their children to NOT TAKE INSTRUCTIONS SERIOUSLY!! If you are doing this to your child, your child will have serious problems in adjusting Socially and Academically in School!
2. The 2nd Behavior I want parents to observe is if you are mirroring the same to your child? Are you also showing them that – ‘Even if you say something, I am not going to listen’.
By this I mean, does your child typically have to call you 3-4 times or even 8-9 times to draw your attention and does this happen more than 2ce a day, almost everyday?
Even if you are talking to someone and your child nudges you constantly, attend to your child immediately and either listen or mention that you want to listen in a little bit.
But more often than not, I notice parents who are not even interacting with another person (e.g. just cooking in the kitchen) and yet the parent refuses to attend to the child until the child calls out 5 – 15 times! This child has learnt to DO THE SAME in return!
Let’s say your child has already learnt to overhear your instructions and take them for granted. What is the way to unlearn them?
Begin telling them overtly – “From now, when I say NO, I mean NO and nothing else. When I ask you to stop doing something, I mean stop doing it and nothing else’.
Follow those words with non-aggressive action and always explain to your child WHY they must not do it. Just saying – “Stop doing it because I am telling You”, teaches nothing to your child. Give your child a good reason – “You must not write on the wall because we have papers for writing and walls are meant to kept clean”.
Children learn a lot faster with logical reasons than with your attempt to exercise your POWER over them.