My son is hitting and pushing at school. His teacher administers time-outs at school. At home I have used reward charts and have given him time-outs. Nothing seems to work.
We often tell our children to not continue negative behavior, but we forget to tell them what positive behaviors we want to see instead. When your son becomes frustrated or angry with others, he hits or pushes.
- Tell him you would like him to keep his hands to himself and use his words to express his feelings. Another option is to ask his teacher for help. Teach him that whenever someone frustrates him he needs to put his hands in his pockets. If he does not have pockets, he needs to put his “handcuffs” on, meaning that he puts his hands behind his back and holds his wrists.
- Give him a good kid-related reason to do what you are teaching. Point out the benefits to him for doing it this way.
- Have him practice. Demonstrate what you mean. Check his understanding by having him demonstrate it back.
For example, take a situation that has happened in the past at school in which your son hit or pushed a classmate. Then show your son the new way to handle the conflict. Practice daily at home because the more he becomes familiar with this new way, the more likely he will be to use it in the heat of the moment. Praise him when he uses it, and be patient. It takes time to replace old behaviors with new ones.
It is good that you are using consequences. The more immediately that they occur after the infraction, the more likely your son will see the connection between poor choices and negative consequences. A time-out is an appropriate consequence. We suggest that you fill the time-out with practicing his new behavior because consequences paired with teaching is an effective way to bring about change.
I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old baby. My older child has recently started displaying attention-seeking behaviors.
She is always adding to conversations whether what she says is relevant or not. She sprayed my perfume all over the bathroom when she was supposed to be brushing her teeth. She ignores my directions to do things. I have to get angry to be heard. When I reprimand her, she stares at me vacantly and mechanically says she is sorry even though she does not truly feel remorse.
I have explained to her that caring for a baby is a lot of work. I have asked her to help so she feels included. She says she wants to but does not follow through. What do you suggest? I miss my polite, well-behaved little girl.
It does in fact sound like your daughter is seeking attention as you stated. Children learn at a young age that acting out will get them noticed. Since this has worked in the past, she will continue to do this unless you help her learn a new way to behave. She is only 10; you cannot expect her to appropriately ask for more attention. Give her examples of what both positive and negative attention-seeking looks like.
You need to know that she understands and knows what your expectations are. Once she does, have her practice with you. For instance, she could ask for some of your time, help with the baby or express her feelings by saying that she feels left out. These are all healthy ways of getting attention.
The basics of behavior modification say that the only way to increase or decrease a behavior is to issue consequences. So if your daughter demonstrates negative attention-seeking behavior, give her a consequence. It can be small, but it must be motivational. Make sure it is immediate, and follow through on it to ensure its effectiveness.
If she does well and positively seeks attention, reward her. This can be as simple as spending 10 extra minutes alone with her before bedtime reading a book, brushing her hair, cuddling – whatever she enjoys. The activity is not as important as the time you spend with each other.
I am a single parent. My 12-year-old daughter does not have any boundaries at my ex-wife’s house. She is permitted to stay home by herself with no one checking on her. Additionally, she is home alone in the evenings when I pick her up since her mom doesn’t come home.
Because there is little accountability at her mother’s house, she likes to challenge my rules and boundaries. This is especially true when it comes to the use of technology and Facebook.
My fiancé and I have observed very reckless behavior when it comes to my daughter’s Facebook usage when she is not under our care. I approached my ex-wife with my concerns and asked if we could establish consistency between our two homes in how we handle technology use. My ex-wife responded that she is too busy to follow her on Facebook, but that she would talk to our daughter. She then proceeded to shame me for dragging our daughter into the middle of it.
What can my fiancé and I do? We will be raising five children together, and we want to do everything to provide a safe and healthy environment for them. We want them to be successful in life, and we are aware that it will take strength of character to swim against the current of my ex-wife’s household.
Having a child who is parented with two completely different sets of expectations is difficult for the parents and child alike. The only thing you can do is make your expectations very clear, and back them up with many good “kid” reasons. These are reasons that show your daughter the benefits of doing things according to your expectations. She has to be able to relate to these reasons and see how they fit into her world.
Along with expectations, establish consequences that are consistently used when she does not meet your expectations. These are privileges like cell phone use, going out with friends and watching TV. If she does not meet your expectations, consistently assign negative consequences, such as the loss of a privilege or an added chore.
This type of structure teaches young people responsibility and good decision- making skills. Pre-teaching will also help ensure your daughter’s success. Use her reckless Facebook use as an example. Before she goes to her mother’s, talk to her about her recent Facebook activity that you deem is reckless and how it could be dangerous or have damaging results for her. See if she can think of what possible negative things could result from her Facebook activity. Then talk to her about more appropriate postings that would not put her at risk or give others a negative impression of her.
Let her know that you will be doing whatever is necessary to keep her safe. Continual monitoring of electronic communication, including her cell phone, e-mail and Facebook will take place. There are very strict laws in some states about “sexting,” as well as large costs for being involved in that activity. Assure her that she should report it to you if and when she receives anything that could be considered sexual in content.
Talk to her about the responsibility that accompanies electronic communication. If a good level of responsibility is not demonstrated, that privilege can be lost, whether the behavior occurs while she is with you in your home or elsewhere. Location has nothing to do with whether she makes good decisions or not.
This approach, if used calmly and consistently at a neutral time, will have great benefits for your children and you and your fiancé.
My 7-year-old acts like she cannot hear. The only time she does hear is when I yell. Her doctor conducted a hearing test and says her hearing is fine. What else can it be?
With children, we should always check out medical causes that may be contributing to the problem before we assume that it is a behavioral problem.
First, we recommend that you make a few simple adjustments to your communication techniques:
1. Remove any distractions such as TV, radio and video games that have her attention.
2. Get on your daughter’s level so you can have eye contact.
3. Monitor your voice tone and body language. Children pay more attention to those than the words we use.
Second, monitor your overall communication with her to make certain you are praising her for the good things she is doing four times more than you are correcting her. If your child hears criticism the majority of the time you communicate with her, she will learn to “tune out” what you are saying.
You can turn this around by consciously focusing on the positive things she is doing or has done. Sometimes this alone can be a miraculous cure for “hard-of-hearing” children.
How can I get my teenager to listen to me? How can I make him clean his room, pick up after himself and help out around the house?
Those are great questions! Unfortunately, we don’t have a simple answer, and there isn't just one thing we can tell you to do that will make your child listen. Without much information about your son or your situation, we cannot provide a lot of specifics. But we can give you some of our basic parenting strategies to try.
Use positive and negative consequences to change behaviors. Positive consequences (time with friends, for example) increase the chances of a behavior happening. Negative consequences (such as the loss of privileges) decrease the chances of a behavior happening.
When using consequences to change a behavior, keep these five things in mind. A consequence should be:
1. Important to the child
3. Appropriate in size
4. Relate to your child's behavior
5. Appropriate for your child's level of development
Use consequences to teach your child, not to punish him. When you issue a consequence, remind your son of the appropriate behavior that he is supposed to have. Even though you may have told him three times yesterday, remind him again today because he still does not have the appropriate behavior.
If you are already issuing consequences for your son's behavior and are not seeing changes, you might need to reevaluate the consequences. Consequences will change as your child changes. Sometimes as parents we have to be creative in order to keep our consequences effective.
My 12 year-old son has bipolar disorder, is defiant, doesn’t follow rules or directions, gets angry easily and overall has numerous behavioral issues. I have tried rewards and consequences for good and bad behavior. He sees a psychiatrist and counselor regularly but he only seems to bet getting more out of control every day. How can I help him?
Parenting a child who requires extra care makes an already tough job that much more challenging. Children who are diagnosed early on in life with bipolar disorder face many challenges, as does their family.
It can be common for their disorder to change as they do. Changes in the disorder may require adjustments in medication of either type or dosage. We always encourage parents to be completely forthcoming with how the medications are going because it can have such an impact on the child's treatment. Have you recently had him evaluated? Sometimes other types of disorders will co exist with bipolar, which may better explain some of the behaviors he's been displaying.
It can be overwhelming to think that his disorder might be in constant motion and some parents have found it helpful to keep a daily record that includes specific behaviors, eating patterns, medication status and sleeping patterns. Examine the record for patterns that might be developing.
We encourage you to consider family therapy if you haven't already done so. Sometimes parents caring for a child who needs more attention often put their own needs last. However, it's hard to care for someone else if you're not caring for yourself first. Continue with positive and negative consequences consistently to create a stable environment for your son.
My four year-old son hits others. When I tell him to stop he yells at me saying that he doesn’t have to do what I tell him to do. Sometimes, he will run away from me into his uncle’s room. How can I help him change his behavior?
There's reason behind every behavior. At four years-old, your son is still testing boundaries and exploring his surroundings. When he hits it's important that you act on the unwanted behavior immediately after it happens. For example, take his hand and say "no, we don't hit" and then explain that hitting is wrong because it hurts others. It may take several repetitions before he actually understands what you are trying to teach him. His ability to comprehend and make sense of things is much different compared to that of a teenager or an adult.
Effectively utilizing consequences can be a helpful way to change unwanted behavior. Consequences can be positive and negative. A positive consequence, like more playtime or a treat, increases the chances of a behavior happening. A negative consequence, like a time out, decreases the chances of a behavior happening again.
When administering consequences it's important to keep four things in mind:
- Keep it important to the child (a special toy or book)
- Make it immediate (directly following the unwanted/wanted behavior)
- Keep it appropriate (not too big and not too small)
- Make it relate to your child's behavior (if he hits with a toy, take the toy away)
It sounds like just telling him isn't working, so now is the time to try something new. If he is not supposed to talk back and if he's not supposed to go into his uncle's room then those are both unwanted behaviors and appropriate consequences need to be applied. Be consistent. If you stick with your new routine, his behavior should change.
I am a single mom with a 5-year-old daughter who is not happy unless my full attention is always focused on her. I have tried explaining to her that mommy is not always able to play with her. I've also tried to play for a little while then leave her to play on her own. Usually when I do this, she immediately stops and insists I join her again. Can you suggest some parenting tips that would enable her to be more comfortable playing on her own, which will give me the ability to focus some attention on the other responsibilities I have?
Being a single mother is hard work. Adding a child who needs a lot of attention doesn't make your job any easier. It sounds like your daughter loves having you around. It's difficult if it's just you two at home because her only option for attention is from you. Rather than playing with her for a little while and then leaving, try having her play on her own first. When she is able to do that successfully, reward her by having one-on-one time with her. That will teach her to seek your attention by doing positive things such as playing on her own. Remember, set your expectations low at first -- five minutes and then gradually increase her alone play time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes and so on.
While she’s playing on her own, make sure you’re near enough to verbally interact with her. Praise her throughout for playing nicely and also comment on things she is doing. For example, "You're doing such a great job of playing with your toys. I see you built a very big bridge with your blocks. That's great!" This lets her know that even though you aren't on the floor playing with her, you are still acknowledging her.
My 10-year-old daughter is very jealous of any positive attention I give her older sister. The other day we were joking, and she swore at me. I’m very involved in my church and make sure no one says bad words in my house. Despite this I’m so disappointed that my daughter used this very bad word. Please help me and offer some advice.
In order to best help your daughter, define exactly how you would like her to behave when something upsets her. Give her examples of what would be appropriate to say when someone is joking around with her. Let her explain to you how upset she felt when you were joking with her. It sounds like her sensitivity level may be different than yours or your other daughter's, so when talking or joking around with her, remember she’s probably going to be more sensitive.
My 10-year-old son refuses to follow any rules whether they’re given by me or someone else. He is constantly in trouble at school. As of right now, he’s been put on a modified school schedule due to his behavior. He has an “I don't care” attitude,” and I don’t know how to handle him anymore.
Having school involvement is a step we usually encourage; a school can be a parent's best ally. When it comes to rules in the home and changing current behaviors, it's important to use consequences. Consequences can be both positive and negative. Positive consequences increase the chances of a behavior happening, while negative consequences decrease the chance of a behavior happening.
When it comes to using consequences, keep five things in mind. The consequence should be:
- Important to the child
- Relative to the behavior
- Appropriate to your child's level of development
If a child doesn't mind that TV is taken away, it won't be an effective way to change a behavior. It needs to be something he values. When administering consequences, it's important to understand that it's more than just giving out a punishment. It's also a time for you to teach your child. Let me give you an example: A parent walks in on a child coloring on the walls with crayons. As a punishment, the child must wash the wall, but the parent also steps in and shows the child where it is appropriate to color. He then brings the child paper.
It might also help to have him go for a psychological evaluation to rule out anything else that might be causing some of his behaviors. Most school systems have a psychologist within the district who can help with this. We can also help you find other referrals for this type of service if you don't want to go through the school.