Behavior modification in children is a tremendously useful tool but it is certainly NOT a magic wand. Behavior modification falls under the category of good, old-fashioned hard work.
When a child has worked hard, he needs a break. (Not to be confused with wanting the break before doing the hard work, however.)
Knowing when to let the training go and take a breather and how to do that is a helpful skill to learn as a parent. Let's take a closer look.
- When to let go.
Sometimes a child has genuinely worked very hard on changing her behavior and frankly, she's tired of the whole process.
The key to knowing when to take a breather is knowing your own child. Has she been truly working on what you've asked her to work on?
Are there extenuating circumstances? Extra homework? Feeling sick? Simply going too hard for too long?
You definitely want to have compassion for your child. However, you don't want to be feeling sorry for your child. Do you understand the difference?
Certainly a child needs to be rewarded for working hard on behavior modification issues. An appropriate reward - choosing dinner for the family, getting to play extra with a friend, etc. - can help a child stay motivated on working forward. Always, always catch your kids being good and tell them so!
Likewise, when your child is feeling - and acting - overwhelmed, have a system in place for working towards calm again. It can be a ten-minute hug, time in a quiet place until calm returns, or any other structure that your child and you have decided works, but whatever it is, use it.
The middle of a meltdown or a moment of acting out specifically due to overwhelm is a very important time in behavior modification. That's the moment to show your child how to step back and take a break, but without going out of control. A child has to learn how to handle his distressing feelings and then know what to do afterwards. It's not the moment for pushing harder, but for learning to let go and regroup.
So, when the frustrating moment has passed, sit down together and discuss whatever triggered this incident. Decide right then how to take care of that trigger. If it's homework, it still must be done (make a plan). If an interaction with a sibling was the trigger, relationships must be repaired (make a plan). This has the effect of keeping accountability in the situation while still working with the reality of the moment (i.e. your child had a meltdown).
It also gives a child valuable instruction on what to do next time this situation comes up and of course, it will. That's life. And frankly, those are the moments when change can actually occur, when frustrations come up. Guide your child into seeing that this change is beneficial for him and the more he cooperates, the more the two of you can find solutions that work - together.
Behavior modification in children is a practical approach to helping your child gain self-control through incremental change. You'll need patience (you knew that!), flexibility, a determination to succeed. A sturdy sense of humor doesn't hurt, either.
Your child will be amazed as he learns he is totally capable of handling himself and making changes in his own behavior that benefit him and make his life better.
That's called growing up and every child deserves the best shot at it possible. Colleen Langenfeld has raised 4 kids and can help you enjoy your mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com. Do you know your child as well as you would like? Get a free report on reconnecting with your kids plus grab more child behavior modification strategies today.