Helping Your Kids Change–is that the real job of parenting?
Change from being selfish and uncooperative. Change from being irresponsible, and change from any other number of irritating behaviors that parents see in their children. In fact, parents often settle into the thinking that their job is merely behavior modification, so changing a child’s bad behavior is their focus.
While changing a child’s behavior is important if the actions are negative, the real key to changing those behaviors doesn’t start with the child, it begins with the PARENT.
The Key to Helping Your Kids Change is YOU
Author H. Norman Wright says this about changing others:
Problems can arise when our desire for change in the other person exceeds our willingness to change ourselves. If you want to change the “problem person” in your life, the place to begin is to shart changing yourself.
Wait a minute, you may be thinking. I’m the one who’s supposed to change? That makes no sense since my child is the one with the bad behavior!
Yes, your child may be the one with the bad behavior, but if you are trying to change that behavior, it’s important to examine YOUR behavior too. How are you responding to what your child does?
When your 8-year-old refuses to quit the video games and do their homework after repeated warnings, how do you respond? When your teen lies to you about why they missed their curfew, how do you respond? When your child says mean or hateful things to you, how do you respond?
Changing yourself so that you can better help your child change starts with these responses:
Don’t just read the headlines. Get the whole story by seeking to understand what is behind your child’s behavior. Don’t take their negative and uncooperative behavior at face value. There is always a why behind their what.
Gather the facts. The only way to really get the facts is by listening to your child before you take action. Slow down, let them speak without interrupting.
Ask yourself two key questions. In every challenging situation you face with your child, ask yourself these two questions: What does my child need to learn from this? What is the best way for me to help them learn it?
Respond to your child based on how you answer those two questions. Not on how angry you feel in the moment. Not on how embarrassed or tired you are.
If you truly want your child to change their behavior, you have to give them a reason to do things differently. Not by making them afraid, but by helping them understand why their behavior was not good, why it was not safe, or why it was hurtful. When you have a conversation with them about their behavior, instead of lecturing or yelling, you are planting seeds in them that will eventually grow to fruitfulness.
For many parents, this is where the change must happen. They must shift from reacting to responding, from lecturing to listening, from criticism to conversation.
If you are struggling to change your child’s behavior, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy. Are there some things you need to do differently? If you truly want things to change, then you must be willing to change.
If you’d like to talk about how you can change so that you can help your child change, schedule a free intro call with me here.