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How do I use behavior modification strategies to make things
better for my child and my homelife?
That's a great question. Before we attempt to answer it, let's talk
about what behaviors in your child you see that might need to be
modified or changed.
- Aggressive behaviors.
- Back talking.
- Drug or alcohol use.
- School problems.
This is just a partial list, of course, of challenging childhood
behaviors. Your child probably doesn't have a problem with all of
behaviors, but you may be facing several of them.
If this sounds like your homelife right now, you are probably feeling
desperate. I don't blame you. It's very painful to live in a family
that feels like it's spinning out-of-control.
What's next? Well...
What behavior modification strategies have you already tried?
- Setting boundaries.
- Consequences. (Click here for a related article on consequences.)
- Using tough love.
- Taking away privileges.
- Extra chores.
Again, this is just a partial list of behavior modification
you can use to grab your child's attention and focus it back where it
belongs. I can tell you from personal experience parenting my own
children, these are all excellent strategies. What they are not,
however, is magic.
Let me explain a bit about what I mean by that.
Control and influence as a behavior modification strategy.
Here's the unvarnished truth when it comes to dealing with your
child: you have tremendous influence. You have no control.
If that raised more questions for you than it answered, you are on the
right track. People confuse these two concepts all the time. And
As a parent you are influencing your child from the moment he is born.
Whether you realize it or not; whether you like it or not. Influence
between parent and child is hardwired into the human race.
Control is a different thing, however. The only control a person has is
self-control, and that's true whether you are 10 or 40 or 110. Bottom
line? You cannot MAKE your child do anything once she is past the age
of about 2 and you can still physically wrangle her. And even at that
young age, the more you physically wrangle a child, they more they look
to defy you! The word 'defy' is the root word of 'defiant'. As in a
'defiant child'. Do you see the connection?
So, the behavior modification strategies listed above, and more like
them, DO work, but only as a part of a process of influence and rarely
in isolation. In other words, you need a parenting plan that you
plug these strategies into as needed to help your child learn to
control his own behavior.
Step One in using behavior modification strategies
The smartest thing you can do as a parent of a defiant or
child (insert your own particular behavior challenge) is to face total
reality in your home. I'm being honest with you here; this is a
thing to do. It's also the shortest route to success in dealing with a
child's behavior problems.
All too often as parents, we yearn so deeply for peace in our homes
(and rightfully so), that we try to avoid the topics or situations that
cause behavioral flare-ups. If you've been doing this in your home for
any length of time, you probably are frustrated by the fact that things
are worse, not better. That's because despite your good
intentions, avoidance never works the way we want it to. Peace is not
the result we get. We're left deeper in the mire instead.
You cannot accurately and realistically address the behavior challenges
in your child until you look at those challenges face to face. In fact,
you need to
see them much more accurately than your child does. Otherwise how can
you lead the way to a better place?
Step Two in effective behavior modification strategies usage.
Try to be an objective observer in your own home. Trust me, this will
take practice but it will also give you perspective which will help you
make wiser decisions and bring calm back to your heart.
After all, someone MUST be in charge in your home and your child is
depending upon you to be that person (no matter what he is saying).
Start by taking control of yourself and your own emotions. Take notes
on the state of your homelife, if that helps you be more objective.
Learning and then implementing new behavior modification strategies
will require you to see the big picture in your home and devise a
to move towards it. Think of this like any other project you would plan
out. Don't let the noise in your home, both figurative and literal,
cause you to lose your focus.
You can do this!
And one last thought on putting your behavior modification
strategies into action.
Always remember, whenever you set limits or boundaries your child WILL
test you. That is his job. Your job is to stand firm. Be
matter-of-fact, consistent and firm.
Your child is looking to you to be his leader (remember that influence
discussion?). Don't disappoint him.
For a useful and related article on this topic, click here and read How to Give Kids Consequences That Work
If you want to know what parenting program I can recommend that helps
parents with struggling kids, that would be The Total Transformation program, hands down. Part
of why this program works is because it supports parents extremely
What to do with a child with very
serious behavior problems
Consequences in elementary
school for bad behavior
Common behavioral problems in
Behavior problems in school age
Teenage behavior modification
Behavior modification in children
Remember, I am giving you my thoughts as a long time parent, not as a
therapist. This website does not dispense professional, medical, or
Please consult a qualified professional about your own situation.
Colleen Langenfeld is a mother with over 29 years of parenting experience and helps other busy moms around the globe at www.paintedgold.com.
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