Hope For The Journey

6 Steps To Happy,
Compliant Children

Everyone wants happy, compliant children, but this can feel like an elusive fantasy at times (unless, of course, you are checking your friends’ Facebook feeds where all you see are examples of what is not happening in your house). Dinnertime or getting ready or just simply saying no to a young child can be a huge struggle. Following these six simple steps can help you turn things around significantly. 

Step One: Be in the Right Mindset.

I don’t know about you, but half the time I feel like the cartoon character Kathy. (Visualize hair sticking straight up and waves of angst literally shooting out of my body.) While I hope I don’t look as frazzled as I feel, I know my kids respond in kind when I’m feeling this way. But if, instead, I take a moment to collect myself, relax my shoulders, and go into a situation with a positive attitude, I always do better. Ultimately, this impacts my kids’ behaviors in a huge way.

Step Two: Practice Persistence and Don’t Give Up at the First Sign of Trouble. 

Let’s face it. Kids like to test. Just because I have grand plans to turn something around
doesn’t mean they really believe it’s true yet. You should expect for things not to go exactly as planned and be ready to take deep breaths or do whatever you need to do to stay calm and on course.

Step Three: Set Aside 10-15 Minutes of Dedicated, Engaged Playtime Every Day. 

So much of the time we’re with our children in body, but not giving them our full attention. We’re distracted by something on our phone or cooking dinner or doing any other of the million things we have to do as parents. Setting aside some time doesn’t have to mean hours of intense attention. It’s really just blocking off a small amount of time on a regular basis.

This time should be child-led, full of praise, and enjoyable for both parties. It is different from our normal teaching and directing role. This is a time to step down to your kids’ level and experience the world through their eyes. It is amazing how much these brief moments can bring you together with your kids, increasing your patience and their cooperation.

Step Four: Ignore Negative Behaviors. 

Most non-aggressive behaviors can be effectively managed with active ignoring. Rather than correcting a kid for smacking, try ignoring it and praising when they close their lips. If you don’t believe me, do a test. Try correcting a behavior like smacking during dinner every time noticing your child’s reaction and if it works. The next night, try only praising when they chew nicely. You’ll see…one or two praise comments are more powerful than 50 corrections.

Step Five: Follow Through with Previously Determined Natural Consequences.

The best parenting is intentional. So, if you have a repetitive problem behavior, take some time outside the problem time to think through a natural consequence. For example, for my son’s refusal to eat in a timely manner, we decided he would miss out on a fun family activity after dinner while he finished eating alone. (Previously, we would just stay at the table harassing him until he finished—believe me, that was not helpful.) Once you’ve got a consequence in mind, remember to stick to it.

Step Six: Repeat daily! 

As simple as these steps are, following them consistently takes practice and determination. So, hang in there and learn to reset when you go astray as we all do. Having compliant children means being a persistent parent.

If your child is having behavior problems because of a difficult situation in the past, you might need more than just some simple parenting tips, though. Sometimes kids need specialized care, and when they do, parents often can benefit from additional support. If you or someone you know is in this situation, our licensed clinicians are here to help. 

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