Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hey, kids, it’s not fair!

Have you ever wonder how your kids get away with so much? I’m pretty sure they didn’t attend a “Kids Training on Behavior Management Class” before they were born and yet, they know how to push our buttons and get what they want. One thing is for sure, in all fairness: they don’t play by the rules; and we as parents have to. Kids, it seems, are allowed to scream, cry, hit, runaway, etc.

How are they getting away with it? Let’s take a closer look:
-        They ignore us. They do not follow our directions. And when they follow the directions, they do it slow or wrong or half way so we come to the conclusion that next time we should do it.

-        When they want something they can’t get, they cry and scream very loud. And I mean LOUD. If this doesn’t work, they throw things. If it’s still not working, they pinch, scratch, hit and kick.

-        Eventually we give in just to stop their behaviors. Now is the time when they are quiet and behave like angels, thus rewarding us, which increases the likelihood of us giving in the next time.

-        They do not brush their teeth. This is an easy one; we are so tired at that time of the day that we give up pretty quickly. If we insist, they distract us by running away, asking for water or fighting with their brother. Or they say they have a stomach ache. This never fails.

-        Usually, moms and dads do not agree on what to do. So our kids play us against each other, they go to daddy when mommy says “No”, or vice versa. And we argue between us and forget about them.
Do you see where I’m going with this? All these behaviors make us give in and get them what they want.

It’s not fair, they manipulate us. So, we should be able to manipulate them. So let’s learn from their behaviors and see how we can turn the tables in our favor:
-        Learn to ignore their crying and whining. This does not mean you ignore them. It means you do not give them what they want because of their behaviors. It doesn’t matter how tired you are or how little time you have. Every time you give in, you are making your life more difficult. The “I’ll deal with these behaviors when I have time” mentality does not work, you’ll never have time. It is NOW.

-        Do not give up when they ignore you or do it wrong. It’s OK to choose your battles, so if you don’t have time or energy, do not ask them to do it. Because if you do, you’d better follow through. Brushing teeth is a great example. Be sure that when you ask them to brush their teeth, you can follow through.

-        Do not argue with your spouse in front of them. Talk about behavior management strategies when there are not present. Reach an agreement and be consistent. And if your spouse told them something, support him/her in front of the kids. You need to present a united front.
We parents can feel like complete failures sometimes but we are not bad people. We love our kids. The problem is that we never imagined that being a parent and managing behaviors would be so difficult. Education and knowledge is the key. It’s up to us to get the best of them and help them become the children we want.  Or at least go down fighting.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

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