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Dealing With A Difficult Child Using Positive Reinforcement

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If you are a mom, you understand how unique each child in your home is. No two children respond to life the same way, which is why it’s so important to invest your time in understanding your child. Some children are easy going, and fairly easy to get along with, while others seem to test the limits in every area.

I am the parent of a difficult child, and he is exactly like I was growing up. He does not want to take no for an answer, life isn’t fair, and if he doesn’t want to do something, he’s probably not going to do it. This makes life a little harder, because he doesn’t only behave this way at home, he acts this way at school, with the babysitter, and with other family members.

I love my son dearly, and he is an amazing child, the issue isn’t as much how he behaves, as it is how I respond to it. I have learned that with my son, positive reinforcement is the ONLY thing that works. Because I had the same personality as a child, I can easily see exactly what he’s thinking when I scold him, or get angry with him. He simply shuts down. You could talk to him for hours, and it wouldn’t make a difference.

You see my son has to be confronted in a way that will get his attention, and cause him to respond in a way that will cause him to care about the situation, and desire to change his behavior or attitude.

When approaching him about a situation at school, I find that the best way to handle it is to start by asking him what happened, instead of accusing him of doing something wrong. After he has finished telling me about the infraction, I can address his poor choices. Instead of listing them out, I ask him to tell me what he thinks he may have done wrong, and if he can think of any better ways he could have handled the situation. This usually starts off slow, but by the end of the conversation he can actively tell me what he has done wrong, and what he needs to do if the issue arises again.

When a child can see the problem and the solution from their point of view, it’s a lot more likely that they will understand and correct the behaviors. It also builds a stronger bond between the parent and the child because they know they can fail without you getting angry or punishing them (not that they don’t have to deal with consequences of their actions, because they do). I personally believe that our goal in parenting is not to have well behaved children, but to train our children to make responsible and honorable choices. When I focus on the fact that these issues are training tools for my son’s future I am less likely to be upset about what he’s done, and instead use his mistakes to train him to make better choices.

When it comes to consequences, he has to face them just like I do. If there were no consequences he would not have a motivator to do what is right. So I try to keep those consequences “real”. For example, if he comes home and only does half of his homework, and then tries to finish it before school, I allow him to do as much as he can, but I will not write him a note or allow him to be late for school to finish it. The natural consequence for not completing homework on time is a bad grade, and possible detention. I am not helping him in any way if I get him out of this consequence. All that would do is teach him that it’s okay to wait because mom will bail me out.

Are you looking for help with positive parenting? If so shoot me an email, and I would be happy to share my resources with you!

There are so many other things I can say about the things I have found helpful when dealing with a difficult child, but I will save those for future posts. Do you struggle with discipline issues in your home? What ways have you found that work for your children? I would love to hear your positive parenting feedback!


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