Here is a great question I received from a parent:
What do you do when you have taken away everything that “means life” to a child and they still are misbehaving?
Here’s the deal, when kids misbehave it is for attention. Attention is defined for people as gaining emotional connection and/or control. So when consequences are not impacting the child there is usually a problem with how the child is feeling in the area of emotional connection and control. Think about it, I bet your child is doing the misbehavior when you are busy. Hence we as parents need to slow down and be sure we are giving our children attention.
Here are some easy ways that give emotional connection and control to kids:
- Choices. Giving 20 choices a day is a good rule of thumb. The choices are simple and about things you do not care about. Such as, “do you want to hold my hand or have me carry you?” Or “do you want cereal or toast? Attached is a great handout from Love and Logic. It outlines the rules for Choices. Just be sure you do not give choices when there is resistance. Choices are when emotions are neutral and life is happy!
- PRIDE skills. This tool comes from Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. Even though it is based in play therapy, it is easy for all parents to use. PRIDE stands for: Praise, Reflection, Imitate, Describing, and Enthusiasm. I have attached a handout that outlines how to use these tools for 5 minuses a day in special playtime. Special Play Time is best done with children between the ages of 2 and 7 years. If you have a child older than 7 years of age, use the PRIDE skills throughout the day with them.
The key to helping a child to have good behavior is to connect with them and give the attention they are seeking. By giving positive attention and sharing control with them, you are being a positive proactive parent!