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Are You Afraid of Your Acting Out Child?

25/06/2013 | Child Health, Parent Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

The average parent isn’t afraid of their child or children but they may very well be afraid of their child’s behavior. Any parent who is a slave to this fact needs to realise that it undermines their parental authority as it’s hard to set limits, or at least do it successfully, when you’re afraid of the reaction that your child will have.

Indeed, every time your child acts out you lose more and more authority and soon the only authority that you’ll have is the authority that he or she gives you. At this point you may think that you’re getting him to bed on time or getting her to eat their dinner but those activities will be the ones that they have let you have authority over, nothing more. If this is the case in your house below we have a number of tips, advice and ideas for you to take back that authority before it’s too late.

One of the first things you should do is come up with a plan on how you’re going to handle your child’s negative behavior, doing this before it starts to get worse. Decide how and with what punishment you’re going to handle tantrums and think about what your response is going to be. A good exercise to do is write down a list for yourself that describes in detail what your reaction is going to be when a certain misbehavior is exhibited.

Keep in mind that what you’re going to face next is more than likely loud, angry and petulant tantrums that may seem to last forever (when in fact they’re only a few minutes). Your child is going to test you and test you and then test you some more, looking for chinks in your armour and cracks in your façade that they can (and will) then exploit, bringing you back to square one. Stick to your guns during this time and the rewards will be great.

Explaining to your children how things are going to change when they’re in a well behaved frame of mind is vital. Tell them what behavior it is that they have that you don’t agree with and, more importantly, the consequences that they will receive if they exhibit that behavior. Telling your child about this constantly and consistently will diminish the frequency of tantrums that the child throws and their intensity as well. For older children, this is a sign that you are not going to accept their tantrums and acting out any longer and that real consequences will be enforced if they do.

Letting your child know exactly what the process is going to be ahead of time is also a great idea. For example, let them know that if they throw a tantrum in the shop you’re going to walk away from them and just let them cry and scream. Tell them that if they throw a tantrum you’re going to take out the book that you keep in your bag or your car and read it, ignoring them the whole time. What this does is it takes the power away from your child’s tantrum, their inappropriate behavior, which is exactly what you want to do and want them to know.

After your child has had an episode of bad behavior or a tantrum, and after you’ve punish them in kind, it’s a great time to sit them down and talk about what they can do differently the following time so that they don’t get punished and everyone’s happy. If they’re old enough to understand what you’re talking about ask them their opinion about what they thought they were going to accomplish and what they think they should do the next time it happens. This is vital as it leads your child to the idea that they are going to need to discover and develop other options for dealing with their anger or frustration because you’re not going to deal with it.

Many people have a complete fear of other people’s reactions when their children act out in public and, to ease his fear, they appease their child’s negative actions somehow. The fact is, no matter where you go, who you are or how good your children act or don’t act, people are going to judge you. That’s just what they do. Letting your fear of this judgment get in the way of successfully rearing your child is not a good idea and it certainly won’t help you to accomplish the goal of raising your child to be an effective, intuitive and caring adult.

In the end, once your child realises that they are not in control and that you’re not kidding when you tell them to stop, they not only will know to not misbehave but will strive to not miss behave. Once they realise that there’s no point in screaming, fussing and acting like, well, a child, they’ll move on to being a respectful and obedient young adult.

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