Problem solve bad behaviour
Shouting at your older child whenever she misbehaves could just make her angry and resentful. Solving the issue together teaches her key skills and keeps her on your side.
Positive discipline takes a different tact as your children get older and more able to understand the consequences of their actions. Problem solving issues together with your child helps her learn to express herself and negotiate what she wants without sulking or shouting.
Start solving discipline problems with your child
Sit down with your child when things are calm (not in the heat of the moment) and use a five step approach:
- Show concern and empathy by acknowledging your little one’s concerns using a non-accusing tone. E.g. “Tom, I’ve noticed that there’s something about teeth brushing you find really difficult” or “getting up for school in the morning seems a real struggle”
- Define the problem: i.e. explain briefly, and without lecturing, why the behaviour needs to change: “brushing teeth stops them rotting” “getting up on time makes the morning calmer and gives you time to have breakfast”. Use the “when, then” technique to teach your child the impact of their behaviour on other people. E.g. “when you call people names, then they get sad and feel hurt” “when you say sorry, I feel ready to have fun again”.
- Ask for ideas: "let's think about what might make this easier" "what do you think would help?"
- Listen to your child’s ideas, respect their feelings and praise practical solutions. Agree on a mutually acceptable, feasible solution.
E.g. “You don’t like brushing your teeth because you find the toothpaste tastes horrible, so we agreed that I’ll buy a different make and see if that helps”. “You don’t like me coming into your room in the morning because your tired & don’t feel like talking, so instead, you’re going to set an alarm clock and I’m going to leave you to get up without nagging you”.
- Review: suggest you both sit down together after a week or so of the new routine. Wait till then to talk about it if it isn't working out.
Make sure you acknowledge when she gets it right (e.g. "you let me have a whole telephone conversation without interrupting, thanks Chris that was really helpful"), and use some kind of reward chart to keep a track of her successes.