Today we get to learn more about why your child behaves the way they do.
Last week, we learned that the factors that most affect your child’s behavior can be put into two categories: Nature and Nurture.
Let’s review what the differences are between nature and nurture:
Nature: Internal influences/factors
- Your child’s genetics (family history) or if they were born pre-maturely.
- These are issues you child will deal with their entire life
- If diagnosed early on, you can proactively give your child the tools they will need to be able to become happy, healthy adults
Nurture: External influences/factors (further discussed in next week’s episode)
- The environmental factors that affect your child’s behavior: Events at school, trauma, parenting styles, etc.
Note: some parents take too much ownership of their child’s behavior and some parents aren’t taking enough. We hope to help you see if there is something you need to tweak as a parent or if you are doing great and your child is the one that needs some additional help.
More About Nurture: External Influences
We will start with the most important factor….PARENTING.
The most important lesson that any therapist will teach you about parenting is that consistency is key!
Consistent parenting approaches and consistent follow through from everyone in your home who is the parent/guardian is critical!
Inconsistency among parents is EXTREMELY common and not something to be ashamed of. However, it can create a wedge between partners while also teaching children that if they don’t like the way you’re parenting, they can just approach the other parent.
Being consistent with follow through will teach your kids that you mean what you say and that you will follow through. It teaches them that they can’t get away with things if they just keep pushing and pushing. It teaches them that you are indeed the alpha in your home, not them.
We know being consistent is SO hard, especially at first, but consistency will make your life so much easier in the future!
You need to be consistent with the healthiest parenting style.
We want you to be consistent with the type of parenting that is best to be consistent with. There are four different types of parenting styles, but only one that is the healthiest for you and your kids. We’ll use scientific beakers to represent the parenting styles. We’ll call them Beakers A-D.
Characteristics: This beaker in very narrow from the bottom to the top. This represents parents who have very narrow boundaries and freedoms from birth on. Children in these homes are always told what to do and are expected to do it immediately, no questions asked. These parents focus on discipline and not on warmth or connection with their kids.
Outcome: These children may respect authority and learn to be hard workers. However, children of these parents will often do one of the following. First, they will move out, experience freedom for the first time, and go WILD. Second, they will seek a relationship where their boss/partner tells them what to do all the time. They were told what to do all growing up and standing up for themselves/thinking for themselves is very uncomfortable.
Characteristics: This is a wide beaker from the bottom to the top. This represents parents who give their children very wide boundaries and freedoms from birth on. These parents rarely let their children experience consequences to their actions. They bail their children out of difficult situations. They may try to put their foot down occasionally, but when the child starts pushing back, the parent will give in.
Outcome: Children of these parents often grow up with an entitlement attitude. They think that they should always get what they want, when they want. They have a hard time seeing how their choices affect others. They often have impulse-control issues. It is challenging for them to have mutually cooperative relationships because they think everyone is there to serve them. Staying employed can be a challenge because they aren’t used to authority or working hard.
Characteristics: This beaker is wide at the bottom and more restrictive at the top. Parents in this category will start out giving their children wide boundaries and many freedoms, then when their child starts really testing boundaries in their teen years, the parents will start to become very restrictive. They do this in an effort to get their child to start behaving better.
Outcome: Children in this category didn’t experience authority or have an understanding of appropriate behavior when they were younger. This makes it hard for them to respect authority or behave appropriately as teens. Also, the teenage years are when a child should be receiving more freedoms and responsibilities to help them ease into becoming independent adults. Becoming more restrictive with a teen disrupts this process.
*Note: We are not saying all teens have earned freedoms. More freedoms should be given as the teen has demonstrated trustworthiness.
Characteristics: This beaker is narrow at the bottom, then gradually becomes wider at the top. Parents in this category have clear boundaries and expectations for their children from birth. These parents give their kids more freedoms and responsibilities as they age and earn trust. These parents let their children experience natural consequences for their behavior. They also involve their children in finding solutions to problems at home and in their lives.
Outcome: These kids see their parents as the leaders of the family and understand appropriate behavior from a young age. They gradually learn how to think for themselves, care for themselves, and contribute to the world around them. They ease into adulthood easier than their counterparts. They often do well at work and in relationships.
Our goal is to teach you how to be a Beaker D parent so you can have a happy home and raise healthy kids.
Other outside influences
Kindergarten and first grade usually go really well for kids (unless your child struggles with anxiety, then it can get really tough). However, starting in second grade, kids start to become more aware of socially. They start to notice which kids are different, they start to form cliques, they even start to tease one another. This change in awareness can make a child feel uncomfortable at school. A child may have to work really hard to hold their emotions in while at school because there are social ramifications for falling apart at school. Because of that, your child’s behavior may get really bad when they get home because they finally feel safe enough to release the emotions they’ve been holding in all day.
Being picked on, whether it be at school or in another setting, can most definitely affect a child’s behavior. Click here to learn about the warning signs and to know what to do if you suspect this is happening.
Reports show that 1:4 girls and 1:6 boys are abused in one way or another. That’s a startling statistic! A child doesn’t have the ability to process abuse, but they do understand that what has happened is wrong. The child feels bad, but has a hard time explaining why. Abuse can absolutely turn a child’s world upside down. Click here to learn more.
How Can You Know the Source of Your Child’s Behavior?
Process of Elimination
Start at Home
This is the easiest and most essential place to start. Conduct an evaluation of your parenting at home. This is ABSOLUTELY not about shaming yourself! This is about understanding what is happening and changing for the benefit of everyone in your home.
Check to see if you are being consistent in your parenting, if everyone who parents your child is parenting the same way, if you are following through with the things you say you’ll do, and if you’re giving your kids too many warnings before they receive a consequence (our expert from this episode recommends ONE warning, then a consequence if the behavior continues).
If you are using good parenting techniques, have been consistent for over a month (it takes time to change a child’s behavior), and are not seeing any positive results, this may be an indicator that your child is dealing with issues that need professional guidance. This would be a good time for you to go into a professional, for just a couple of sessions, to discuss your situation and get some additional tools that are specific to your child.
Resources Mentioned In This Podcast:
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Parenting Books Recommended by Our Experts
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk -Faber & Mazlish
Common Sense Parenting, 4th Ed.: Using Your Head as Well as Your Heart to Raise School Age Children -Burke & Herron
Common Sense Parenting of Toddlers and Preschoolers, 2nd Ed.: Practical, Effective Strategies for Raising Well-Behaved Kids and Being a More Confident-Burke and Herron
Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries-Mackenzie
The New Strong-Willed Child -Dobson
Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child-Gottman
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