Create an Environment of Trust
1. Start with Respect. Give respect and expect respect. For example, respect your child’s limitations and need for rest and sleep. Don’t overload your kid with activities: baseball, soccer, piano, dance, etc. Do NOT have a class or activity every single day after school. Pick one or two days a week for that and leave the rest for actual playing or letting them chill. Don’t drag your kids all over creation. They can only take so much! If you don’t choose to respect your child’s needs, don’t expect him to be gracious and refrain from crying and fighting when he’s exhausted and overloaded.
2. No Yelling or Lectures. When you yell, you’ve lost control. Then bad things happen: kids stop listening, and you give negative attention. Stay in command of your emotions. Keep your volume and tone down. Stop yelling at them in the car or for chasing the cat with the vacuum. That will not get rid of the behavior. Maintain your control when your buttons are being pushed – no matter how upset you are or how bad the crime. You can do it. You are the grown-up!
3. Model Desirable Behaviors. Model the behavior you want your child to demonstrate. Use “please” and “thank you.” Treat your child and others around you (that means spouses too!) with respect and gratitude. I guarantee those eyes are watching! When you’re in a disagreement with a family member, use language and listening skills that demonstrate how to communicate effectively. This is how you teach your child to behave during an argument. Clean up your act because kids copy the bad stuff too.
4. Provide Structure and Routine. Schedules need to be consistent. I cannot stress this enough! Daily and weekly activities should be fairly predictable. Keep bedtime the same EVERY DAY. Some kids are more flexible than others, but for the most part, they love routines. They feel in control and happy when daily schedules and bedtime routines are consistent. It works best when you keep the time and the routine the same. Sleep schedules need to be absolutely predictable. For example:
- Bath at 7:15 p.m., brush teeth at 7:45, quiet reading until 8:00. Lights out.
The younger kids are, the stricter the routine needs to be. With kindergartners and first graders, set a limit on books. When you hit your limit or run out of time, that’s it. No more. Remember, kids want to know their boundaries. “Two books” means two books. Period. If you think your child’s getting too little reading time, then read more books throughout the day. When it comes to bedtime, you MUST remain consistent. No matter how sweet and endearing the plea, you answer, “No.” Otherwise, the kid won’t sleep and you’ll feel like breaking all your china and checking into a loony bin. So give your child a firm, loving, and consistent routine to wrap him up in security.
Forget about lax bedtime on weekends or waiting for Daddy to get home from work. Put kids to bed on time! And don’t run your children around in the evening in order to tire them out. It will only make them overtired and throw them way off track. Keep the transition easy by making activities before bed calm, relaxing, and consistent.
Guide children to stay on task. Understand going in, they will test you. Expect to send your child to bed heartbroken a time or two. They’ll be much more cooperative from then on. If not, put your foot down again. No cooperation means you’re giving in somewhere and they know it. So start being consistent! Structure and routine give kids security. I swear to Pete, the first time they actually give you a kiss goodnight, go right into their routine on their own and hit the lights at eight o’clock, you’ll freak out. It’s a great feeling!
5. Repetition of Rules. The less boundaries your kids currently have, the more they will need you to repeat your new rules. You’ve always caved before, so what makes them think you won’t cave now? Oooh, look! Mom’s on a kick and thinks she’s going to get me to mind! Ho! Funny!
Expect them to pull the same behavior nonsense. Then change your reaction, stand your ground, and repeat the rule. There’s a new sheriff in town and you need to prove it.
6. The Two Rules of Engagement. To avoid lame and useless threats, you must say what you mean and do what you say.
See: The Two Rules of Engagement