Parenting can be challenging, especially when faced with behaviors like hitting, kicking, and whining from our children. As a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, I frequently encounter concerned parents asking for help to address these situations.
In this blog post, we delve into a six-step plan for calmer and more joyful parenting, each step beginning with the letter C, to help parents better understand their child’s behavior, create a calm environment, prioritize self-care, build a strong foundation of connection with their child, communicate and coach them effectively, and correct or navigate sticky parenting issues using the latest scientific evidence.
Step One: Calibrate
The first step on our journey to addressing challenging behaviors is to calibrate our expectations. In today’s society, there is immense pressure on parents to be perfect, and we often expect our children to meet numerous milestones at an early age.
However, it is crucial to differentiate between realistic expectations and societal pressures. Understanding child development science can help dispel myths and enable us to set reasonable expectations for both our kids and ourselves. By reevaluating our expectations, we alleviate unnecessary stress and positively impact our mental health and that of our children.
Step Two: Calm
Addressing kicking, hitting, and whining necessitates creating a calm environment that sets both you and your child up for success. While online advice can sometimes feel overwhelming and complicated, simple adjustments to your home and routine can make a significant difference.
By aligning your expectations (as established in Step One) with your environment, you will notice how effortlessly you can foster a sense of calm for both you and your child. For further guidance, consider accessing resources like the “How to Create a Visual Schedule” pdf guide in the free resource library available at discerningparenting.com.
Free RESOURCE LIBRARY
Sign up below and get FREE access to the Discerning Parenting Resource Library!
Step Three: Care (Prioritizing Self-Care)
Amidst the demands of parenting, the concept of self-care can often feel like an additional item on an endless to-do list. However, it is essential to recognize that our mental well-being profoundly influences our children’s mental health. Just as we expect our kids to be okay, we must ensure our own well-being. Ignoring self-care can lead to elevated stress levels, making it challenging to respond calmly to our children’s challenging behaviors.
It is crucial to acknowledge that self-care is not merely an item to check off; rather, it requires a deeper understanding of our automatic reactions and the implementation of new coping mechanisms. Through transformative practices and self-reflection, we can break free from old patterns and develop healthier responses to stressful situations.
Step Four: Connect
Building a strong and secure connection with our children forms the bedrock of effective parenting. Research shows that early relational health has a significant impact on a child’s overall well-being, success in life, and even physical health.
Despite our busy lives, taking a few minutes throughout the day to connect with our children can make a world of difference. It doesn’t require elaborate activities; it simply means being present, without an agenda, and putting away distractions to give them our undivided attention.
Step Five: Communicate and Coach
Children are constantly navigating a complex web of unwritten rules and expectations. Communicating our expectations clearly to them, in a way that matches their developmental level, can help them understand and follow these rules. Visual routines or schedules can be particularly effective in providing clear instructions.
Just as adults feel confused and frustrated when faced with inconsistent rules, children need simple and concise instructions to comprehend what is expected of them. Breaking down big tasks into smaller ones can also make it easier for children to grasp and accomplish their responsibilities.
Step Six: Correct
When it comes to correcting misbehavior and addressing challenging parenting issues, it’s crucial to have a solid foundation established through the previous steps. Many parents encounter frustration when they skip the essential groundwork and jump straight into correction. There is a myriad of conflicting advice on how to handle misbehavior, ranging from ignoring it to implementing timeouts or giving consequences.
However, it is essential to rely on brain psychology and scientific evidence of child development to inform our decision-making process. Research, for instance, has shown that spanking can have adverse effects on a child’s brain development, highlighting the importance of informed choices. Timeouts, when used appropriately, can provide children with the space they need to regulate their emotions.
In conclusion, navigating the challenging behaviors of children requires a comprehensive and thoughtful approach. The six-step plan outlined in this blog post provides parents with a roadmap to better understand their child’s behavior and create a nurturing environment for growth. By calibrating our expectations, creating a calm atmosphere, prioritizing self-care, building strong connections, effective communication and coaching, and informed correction, parents can address challenging behaviors with compassion and evidence-based strategies.
Remember, parenting is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and continuous learning. By implementing these steps, parents can foster healthy development and create a harmonious and supportive relationship with their children, ensuring their well-being and success in life.
If you’re reading this and your child is age 3 or younger, check out our course Learning Through Play. This course guides you through building the skills your child needs, in a way that’s fun and stress-free. You’ll save hours of time and get a science-backed plan for your child’s holistic development.