Parenting: Create An Action Plan To Combat Negative Behavior ...by Bill Knell
In many homes around America the best way to describe the relationship between children and their parents is ALL OUT WAR! It's reminiscent of the trench warfare so common during World War I. Both sides are dug in and everyone lives each day in a perpetual stalemate. If that's you, there is a way out. You have to create an Action Plan that will get both you and your children out of the trenches and into the peace talks.
Wars that are won by all out aggression tend to exact a heavy toll on both sides. In some instances, a war can be won or some sort of truce can be reached by talking with the enemy, looking at the root causes of the war and deciding on compromises that will satisfy both sides. The same is true of volatile family situations where parents and children are constantly butting heads on just about everything.
Action Plans are all about change. The first thing that needs to change is that you and your kids must stop looking at each other as the enemy. The best way to alter those perceptions is by ending the BLAME GAME. That means putting the past behind you and working towards a future where you respect one another. This happens when parents and children understand, to the best of their abilities, each other's roles, duties and responsibilities in a household.
Conversation will be difficult, but it's essential. Begin by talking out each other's perception of the roles you play in the family dynamic. Let your kids explain to you what they believe your responsibilities are. You tell them what you believe is expected of them. Examine the problems or failures on both sides without blaming and always avoid labels. For example, do not tell your child, "It's your job to do the dishes. You don't do them because your lazy." Stick to the issue. The dishes are NOT getting done by the person chosen to do them and THAT is the problem, nothing more.
EXPLAIN instead of BLAME. Tell your child that if he or she doesn't do the dishes, someone else has to and that is not fair. Explain to them that the same thing would be true if you asked your child to get a job, go out and work and pay bills that you should be paying. Everyone has their place in a family and all must contribute to the success of the family dynamic by playing the part best suited to them. You should also be sure that your child understands the correct ways to accomplish the chores you assign to them.
Sometimes problem solving means simply making a job easier. When it comes to dishes, they should be scraped and soaked as soon as possible. Most kids probably don't know that soaking dishes in a sink will make them easier to do after a short period of time. Instead, many will stand at the sink and try to scrap off food particles that are caked on, making the chore nothing more than a lesson in frustration. If you have a dish washer, the dishes should be scraped and placed in the washer as soon after dinner as practical. Again, it's about making chores easier by making sure that the kids know the proper way to accomplish the tasks that you assign to them.
Secondary to talking things out with the kids, parents have to work on their Action Plan apart from interaction with their children. Once you get past the blame issues, make a list of all the problem behaviors that occur in your household and in include your own, if applicable. Think about what you can do to make sure your children have full confidence in you as a parent. Then, think about what they can do to restore your faith and confidence in them. The key to success is making sure that you maintain your parental authority without making your children feel that Authority means Bullying. The kids must understand that your job is to keep them safe and make sure they grow up equipped with the skills needed to face everyday life.
When it comes to your Action Plan, stick to the basics. What are the MAIN problem areas or negative behaviors in the house? How often do these behaviors occur and what sets them off? What has worked and what hasn't worked to alter these behaviors? Most importantly, what EXACTLY is it that you want your children to do and what do you believe they expect of you in terms of positive changes? These are important matters to think about before you sit down and discuss problems in the home further with your kids.
The next time you speak with your children make sure there are few, if any, interruptions. Be certain that they are listening to what you have to say and that you are listening to them. Hearing and really listening are two separate things. If the kids feel that the purpose of your meeting with them is to merely deliver an ultimatum instead of talking things out and respectively listening to each other's viewpoints, the whole thing is pointless. Open communication and active listening allow for this process to go forward in a positive way.
Identify and list the things that you and your children believe need to change in your home. Discuss ways to solve these problems. Alternative choices are a good start. This means replacing behaviors that cause trouble with those that do not and are agreeable to both sides. If children feel they are saddled with too many chores, consider splitting the chores up among everyone in the home. Children might have to take on some of your chores according to their abilities so that they understand the concept of fairly working together for the common good.
When chores are not done or negative behaviors remain unaltered, there must be consequences for the offending parties. Consequences should be realistic, enforcable and consistent. Do not threaten punishment unless you are absolutely willing to IMMEDIATELY carry it out! If you keep telling a child that you will place them in Time-Out if they do not do their homework, you have to follow through. If you do not, your child will know that the consequences you assign are really just empty threats that you probably will not carry out.
Apart from following through on consequences for inaction or negative behaviors, the second most important thing in your Action Plan is that everyone in your family understands WHY certain behaviors MUST be expected of them. They do not necessarily have to agree with them. There are times when parents have to lay down the law in order to establish and maintain a peaceful environment where everyone in the home works together and understands their place in the family dynamic.
Parents should never give up the authority they have to the whims of their children. Children must not be allowed to rule the house. However, if parents show weakness and an inability to be fair with their kids and constantly berate or badger them, anarchy will likely be the result. Parents must listen attentively to their children, consider all sides of an issue, retain their authority, work for a more peaceful and productive atmosphere in the home and always follow through on any consequences they assign.