Despite the best intentions, many parents inadvertently raise their kids to treat their parents and others poorly. Parents unintentionally allow this poor behavior for a number of reasons, which may include not noticing it, having gotten used to it, not knowing how to fix it or not being aware of it to begin with. Regardless of the reason, allowing kids to treat their parents poorly establishes a dysfunctional pattern of behavior that makes it much more likely for them to treat others the same as well.
Some parents’ personalities can also enable their children to develop bad habits; being more passive can enable problematic behavior if the child does not feel like there are any consequences. Conversely, taking a more stern approach can often times (especially with counter suggestive kids) exacerbate their behavior; the solution to problematic behavior in youths requires making the child aware of the issue and replacing it with less offensive behavioral patterns. Following are six strategies to do so:
- Stop the action – Matter-of-factly point out the behavior is the first step to addressing any behavioral issue. While it is important to remain calm and non-confrontational when addressing the issue, some children are more likely to take that as a sign of less potential consequences than others.
- Describe why the behavior is problematic – Usually this is the most difficult step since children’s level of understanding can be challenging. Since kids may not understand why offensive behavior is generally seen as undesirable, it is imperative to find an analogy that can explain the concept in terms that they can understand. Being able to effectively communicate why a child’s behavior is harmful to others can save a lot of energy wasted and possible resentment on their part from punishing them.
- Suggest an alternative behavior – Being able to replace the bad habit is vital to preventing the old behavior from coming back. For instance, if a child has a problem with interrupting, then suggesting to them to wait for a pause in the conversation or say “excuse me” would be better alternatives, assuming you were able to communicate to them why their behavior is an issue. If the child does not truly understand what they are doing wrong, then the chances of their old habit coming back is considerably higher.
- Do not gratify the behavior – Although ignoring the child can sometimes exacerbate their behavior, not addressing the issue they are trying to bring up until they do so using an appropriate manner can be effective if positive reinforcement (i.e., the last two strategies) is not working.
- Ask for a replay – Repeating the exchange may seem absurd but it is often necessary to solidify the behavior into habit. Drilling a solution to a problematic behavior can not only function to ingrain the less offensive behavioral patterns in the child, but act as negative reinforcement as well.
- Withhold the activity or conversation – Resuming whatever you were doing prior to the inappropriate behavior can also be used as leverage to get your child in the habit of being less rude or obnoxious.
White River Academy, we place an emphasis on character development in adolescents with behavioral issues, offering life skills classes and community service oriented programs to instill qualities that lead to a productive and successful life post-recovery.
If you would like more information regarding our approach to treating behavioral issues or co-occurring mental health disorders, feel free to browse the clinical treatments section of our site or contact our 24/7 admissions helpline today.