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  • Writer's pictureShannon Wiggins

No Bad Students

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

One of my favorite quotes is from the 2010 film “The Karate Kid”. When talking about the “bad guys” that were bullying the main character, as they had been taught to do, Jackie Chan’s character states, “No such thing as bad students, only bad teachers.'' Mr. Miyagi also said this in the original 1984 film, but I felt that reference showed my age too much, lol). Any who, the point is, this is one of my favorite quotes because the power behind its meaning. I often think of this during sessions with young children that have been brought to my office due to behavior concerns. Actually, behavior/conduct issues make up the majority of cases I see with kids. And sometimes, working one on one with kiddo can be beneficial in helping to resolve their concerns. However, the majority of the time, parent training is the only solution to their concerns. See, there are no bad students, only bad teachers.

Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that the parents are teaching their children to misbehave. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be bringing them to me with their concerns. What I am saying is that often parents aren’t teaching their children how to behave at all. And it’s really not the parent's fault either. When we bring baby home from the hospital, they don’t come with a manual on how to raise them (but man, how cool would that be if they did?!?). And if you’re anything like I was, my main focus was just on keeping the tiny human alive. So, the question becomes, what do you do when you wake up and have a non-compliant, uncontrollable 4,5, 6 or older year old and you have no idea how to even begin to fix the situation? Well, here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Figure out who’s in charge of your house-- Have you made major concessions based on your child(ren)’s behavior? (Removed them from activities, changed your schedule, missing multiple days of work to deal with behavior issues, etc.) If the answer is yes, then it could be your child(ren) are in charge of you instead of the other way around. If this is the case, make the deliberate decision to reinstate yourself as the boss of your household.

  2. Cut out the parental temper tantrums-- Yes, this is a real thing. A tantrum is an emotional outburst, usually associated with those in emotional distress, that is typically characterized by stubbornness, crying, screaming, violence, defiance, angry ranting, a resistance to attempts at pacification, and, in some cases, hitting, and other physically violent behavior. Physical control may be lost; the person may be unable to remain still; and even if the "goal" of the person is met, he or she may not be calmed. Sound familiar? Parental tantrums are ineffective and unhelpful. As the adult, it’s important to know the signs that you’re reaching your breaking point and take time to compose yourself. Debasing yourself to your child’s level does not teach them the proper way to manage their emotions and it also harms the parent/child relationship.

  3. Remember to like (not just love) your child-- When parents are dealing with difficult behaviors from their kiddos, it can be hard to remember that it’s even possible to like your child. Sure, you love them and want them to have everything they need- the food they won’t eat, the shelter they take for granted, the clothes they complain about wearing, you know, the basics :) But it is important to remember how to enjoy your child’s company as well. If you find yourself dreading to be around your child, or if everything out of your mouth about your child is negative, it’s time to pause and learn how to have fun with your kid again. Carve out some time to play a game, talk, do a craft, anything to will enhance the bond between the two of you. It’s important for your child’s self-esteem to know they are likable and enjoyable to be around. And it’s important for your relationship that enjoy the time spent with your child.

  4. Pick your battles-- If you have been having behavior concerns with your child, it’s easy to let any transgression, no matter how small, set you off and kick you into disciplinarian mode. But not every behavior requires full blown discipline. And if you start nit picking and nagging, the effectiveness diminishes. So as parents, we have to pick our battles. Example: If you kid slams his door when you send him to his room for a timeout, it could be easy to allow yourself to get worked up and reprimand him for slamming the door. But big picture, he went to his room. You were successful in getting what you wanted. And by not engaging your child about slamming his door, you are denying him what he wanted- a reaction from you. And that’s how you start to take control back of your home (see point #1).

  5. Seek help-- If all else fails and you can’t seem to get a handle on your kiddo’s behavior, it may be time to seek professional help. There are certain mental health conditions that may affect your child’s conduct and behavior, and for those issues, your child may need behavioral therapy and/or medication. A professional can also provide you with parent training, regardless of whether or not your child has a diagnosable condition. Bottom line, you don’t have to go it alone.

Hopefully, these tips help with managing behavior concerns. If you’ve tried any of them, drop a comment and let us know how they worked for you! And if you have any other tips that I didn’t list, let us know that too! If you would like individual parent training or feel your child may need to be assessed due to behavior concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, stay tuned for my upcoming parent training seminar on how to deal with difficult behaviors. Make sure you’re subscribed so you can receive updates on when and where the next seminar will be! And until then, happy parenting!

Would you like to work with me? Reach out via phone at 910-745-0303 or fill out the contact form on the website.

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