If you ever struggle with the way your child behaves, you’re certainly not alone! At times, children’s behaviour can be challenging and it can make things difficult for the whole family. If you feel like you’ve tried everything you can think of to change your child’s behaviour and are having no success, have a look at these common parenting mistakes. They might help you need to understand what’s not working so that you can make a plan to deal with the behaviour.
Below are nine common parenting mistakes that we can all be guilty of at times. If you are trying to change something about your child’s behaviour, consider these common mistakes and see whether they may be affecting the way your child behaves. Understanding these common mistakes can also help you to make a plan so you can move forward.
9 common parenting mistakes
- Not considering the child’s perspective. Before you think about how you can change your child’s behaviour, try thinking about it from their perspective. Why are they behaving like that? If you child is hitting other children because they feel lonely and frustrated, there are some underlying issues that you need to address before the behaviour will change. Sometimes children have big feelings and these need as much consideration as any adult’s. Stop and talk to your child and see if there is something going on for them.
- Thinking: “It’s just a phase.” Children do go through phases but undesirable behaviour can also become entrenched. I bet we can all think about situations where we found ourselves stuck in a pattern of behaviour that we didn’t like. It’s the same with children. Decide whether it’s something that’s important to deal with and if it is, make a plan.
- Modelling undesirable behaviour. Recently, I realised that my daughter was saying “Just a minute…” a lot as a delaying tactic. I got really frustrated about it and then I heard myself say…. oops! Now, instead of saying “Just a minute”, I’m trying to say something like, “I’ll do that for you in five minutes” and then trying to stick to it! It’s not easy but I hope it will impact on how she relates to me.It’s important to remember that if you yell at your kids, it won’t be a surprise if they yell back. Try modelling the kind of behaviour you want to see and you might be surprised at how you see this reflected back at you. Behaviour is learned and it can be unlearned.
- Ignoring bad behaviour. This is not to suggest that you should get on your child’s case all the time. However, if your child is repeatedly doing something that you don’t like, you do need to make a plan. Target that particular issue and decide how you are going to tackle it. Don’t try and ‘fix’ every problem at once- try dealing with one behaviour at a time. And the more specific the plan the better. Don’t think “He always misbehaves!” Instead, consider the specific behaviour you want to eliminate – for example: “He’s not speaking to me respectfully.”
- Not having a plan to change the behaviour. Once you’ve identified behaviour that you’d like your child to change, you need a plan to stop it. The plan must: (1) address the child’s current behaviour, (2) decide what you are going to do to change it, (3) identify the behaviour that you’d like to see. Each part the plan is important and you need to make sure that your child is clear about what is happening. Explain clearly to them why their behaviour is a problem and what you’d like to see them do. Make sure that your child also understands the plan.
- Not involving your child in making a plan. Your child will have ideas about how they can change. The more you enlist them, the easier it will be for everyone! Consider asking your child how they think the issue should be dealt with and make a plan together.
- Not teaching a new behaviour. You will struggle to change your child’s behaviour unless he or she is taught a new behaviour to replace it. Try explaining to your child how you would like them to behave in these situations. Model how you’d like them to speak and the words that they could use. You could also role play the behaviour so that your child has a chance to try it before they really need it.
- Going it alone. Big mistake! Your child is part of a community and the more people you can involve in your plan, the easier it will be. Try enlisting extended family, teachers and friends – but make sure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone knows the plan.
- Giving up too quickly. Learning new behaviour habits generally takes a minimum of 21 days of repetition. Hang in there and be willing to accept that there might be some challenges along the way.
Changing difficult behaviour but consider these nine common parenting mistakes can help to identify the real issues and help to make a plan to address them.
Now that you know the 9 common parenting mistakes, check out more expert advice in our 5-10 year old behaviour section.