Friday, June 14

Bad Behavior "Makes Me So Sad"...

My friends. Serious topic, here. I really, really hate to burst your well-meaning bubble, but can we collectively please stop telling our kids how much it hurts our heart or makes us sad to see them act unbecomingly? "Oh, that hurts my heart to see you make that choice," or "That makes me so sad to see that," or "Oh, that's a sad choice."
UGH!! Your child could care less how you feel, think, or what you had for dinner beyond getting them what they want. I see Mommies do this all the time but I have never, ever seen it actually work. Is it working for you? Does your child immediately act sorry, apologize to the offended party, and straighten up to the point where you don't have to repeat that phrase ten times a day? Because I'm apparently blind, here.

The thing is, the Mommies I see using this have kids that are pretty much out of control. So I know it seems to you a way to calmly and sincerely let your child know that you disapprove of a certain behavior, but it teaches them nothing. Nothing! They do not care how you feel; they are too young. So expecting that to make a smidgen of impact is unrealistic. What they NEED is for you to say, "No. We don't do that," and intervene. Intervene, my lovely ladies! Take their arm, or block the physical behavior, or move them into another room, and tell them what you want to see instead. "We keep our hands to ourselves," "Bottom on the chair, feet on the floor," "Use a big kid voice because I can't understand whining and crying," "We do not throw our toys when we're upset. You may stomp your foot instead." Tell and show them what you want to see instead of the offending behavior. This whole telling them what you think and feel business is going to put me over the edge. Make them behave. Insist on it. Otherwise, you are running a hamster wheel.

I so absolutely get that you are tired. But please do something for me. If your child has a ton of energy that is bursting out in bad behavior, set him/her to a physical task. Outside is great - make them run and run and run. But make an actual task out of it so that there is a focus beyond the need to explode upon a piece of equipment, an animal, or another child. Make it running from one end of the yard to the other, collecting acorns or sticks, or collecting the sticks and then making a giant pattern out of it, whatever. And do NOT make this a "Oh, look, let's play a game, honey! It'll be fun! You try it, okay?" Because believe me, if you act like there is a choice or you desperately want to engage him in something, he will sniff it out in no time and use that stick to whack your fanny in a clear communication that he's not interested. When you go about it in a "Here's what we're going to do," sort of way, and use a firm, authoritative demeanor and voice, it changes things. You might get some balking because that is not your usual pattern, but make your child do it before he does anything of his chosing. He may throw a fit, but I'm telling you, the structure is needed and you must, absolutely must, win this battle of wills. (Another blog on battle of wills vs. breaking their spirit later...) Do not give in to a normal pattern of letting your child's behavior slide; it teaches him to do that exact behavior over and over because you ultimately do nothing about it beyond yammering something that they translate into, "Blah, blah, blah...."

So change your language and demeanor, give them a physical task to release some energy and create a sense of boundaries, and tell and show them how to act.

Good luck, friends!

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