"How do I get my kids to behave better?"
I like to think of discipline as a puzzle with many pieces. If you've been with me for a while you know that I firmly believe parents need to build a strong family foundation. Part of that foundation is strengthening the parent-child relationship so you are in a position to positively influence your child's pathway to adulthood.
Taking time for fun! Think about the last time you put aside your phone, unplugged the kids from their screens and just relaxed and had fun. I'm not talking a big trip to Disney! After all, everyone seems to improve their behavior at the most magical place in the world. I'm talking about playing board games, kicking a soccer ball around, going to the park or going for a hike. Do you remember how you felt playing with the kids? Did you feel relaxed? Did you hear them laughing and joking around? If so, you were laying the groundwork for a better relationship, which leads to a few things: 1. Closer parent-child bonds
2. More open communication
3. More patience and understanding
Keep in mind: Rules without Relationship = Rebellion
1. When we intentionally take time to build a relationship with each of our kids, they feel important and valued. When someone feels valued, they naturally want to keep the positive vibes flowing with the other person. They will try to "do no harm" to the relationship they have with the other person. Kids are the same way! When our kids feel that deeper tie to us, then they naturally want to please us. Will they still make mistakes? Of course, they are kids. The important piece is that on the other side of the mistake is discipline built on love and given by someone who values them. 2. When we have fun with our kids we build trust into the relationship. Our kids know they can be relaxed with us, which opens up the opportunity for better communication. Be open to the small stuff, then when bigger things happen and you need to step in to discipline (which means guide) then your kids will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.
3. This one is pretty simple, when we enjoy someone's company we have more positive feelings towards them. This is true about the parent-child relationship as well. If you're constantly on edge and "prickly" with each other, then when issues arise both parties will come to the discussion already irritated with the other person. This will not lead to positive disciplining on the part of the parent. On the other hand, if a parent and child have a more positive relationship they will be calmer, more open to discussion and will interact with patience and understanding.
So, making time for fun is a wonderful way to lay the groundwork for a more positive family dynamic and parent-child relationships. EASY to implement!
Here's the good news! Making time for fun doesn't have to be expensive or overwhelming. Look for opportunities to grab one-to-one time with each of the kids, even 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference! With younger children, you could incorporate bedtime rituals that include a few minutes to reconnect. As you tuck your child in, ask him what was his favorite part of the day and why. This also sends them to sleep with happy thoughts.
For teens, it's easier to get them talking if you do "parallel" interaction. Think shoulder-to-shoulder instead of eye-to-eye. (Teens tend to open up more about more serious topics if they don't have to look at you.) So, how do you incorporate fun with this? Shooting hoops, talking a long walk, driving in the car on the way to drop them off at a friend's house, things like this may help. Meet your kids in their world and have fun! For some kids, they'll be excited if you'll take a few minutes to try to learn their favorite video game. I'm not a gamer, but my youngest was all about computer things...so we met in the middle. He taught me how to play the Lego Star Wars video games. I thought it was hilariously cute and he was happy to be teaching me something. Win-win!
Make time for family fun too! The closer the family bonds are, the more improved the behavior will be in the home. Do you know a parent who would like some easy-to-implement discipline skils? If so, please share this article with them and have them sign up to receive my weekly tips at this link: http://my.daretoparent.com/newsletter