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Ouch! I know that’s harsh.. and yet, unfortunately, true for many parents. There are kids heading for disaster, and their parents don’t have a clue.
I’m not talking about teenagers who are in trouble, I’m talking about the little kids that will become those teenagers.
Years ago I saw a television documentary about girls between the ages of ten and twelve. The study claimed that researchers could predict (with startling accuracy) which girls would become pregnant teenagers.
I was so naive at the time that I was actually surprised.. and a little disbelieving.
Now, after raising two children into adulthood, I believe.
For those of you thinking, “This does not pertain to my kids.” …not so fast.
My kids were “perfect” kids. They were sweet, fun to be around, and well-behaved. Everywhere we went, friends and strangers alike, commented on how amazing they were.
Yet, behind the scenes.. in their hearts and their heads, they were affected by my often misguided parenting. They have turned into awesome adults, but I hurt them in ways I didn’t realize at the time.
Your child’s character and self esteem begins forming at a very young age.
If you wait until your son or daughter starts acting out with drugs, promiscuity, trouble with authorities, difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships .. you‘ve missed your biggest chance to guide them towards healthy, happy adults.
20 Signs Your Child (and You) are Heading for Heartache
1. You typically give in to your kids demands if he or she cries/begs long enough.
2. There are little or no consequences for misbehavior.
3. You say things like: “That was great, but..” – “But” always cancels out what was said before it.
4. Your child is not respectful to YOU or authority (teachers, adults, etc.)
5. He or she lies.
6. You lie. (Yes, telling your ten year old to say you’re “Not here” teaches her or him to lie.)
7. You tell you kids how he or she should feel. “Oh, it doesn’t hurt that much.”
8. You speak poorly of your child’s father/mother; divorced or married.
9. You have a hard time following through on what you said you’d do. (Keeping your word.)
10. You’re angry when your daughter or son nags you because you already know you’ll give in.
11. You blame the other person or situation when your child gets into trouble.
12. You are not respectful and/or loving to your spouse.
13. You try and mold your child into someone he or she is not; not appreciating who he or she is..
14. Your kids is angry; even acting out with other kids.
15. You partake in excessive drinking and/or prescription drugs.
16. You lavish empty praise on your daughter or son and he knows it’s not deserved.
17. There aren’t enough hours in the day for one-on-one with your child. (Watching TV doesn’t count)
18. You don’t find specific areas to praise her or him.
19. You have a tendency to criticize and judge.
20. Dismiss your kids feelings with “Oh, it’ll be fine.”
MUST READ: 10 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Listen To You
What You Can Do About It
Am I saying that if you can relate to one of the twenty points, your child is doomed? Of course not. But as parents, we want to recognize that as our kids grow, they are forming patterns they’ll carry into their adult lives.
Poor Behavior Now Can Have BIG Consequences Later
Most children don’t learn appropriate behavior unless it’s expected of them by their parents.
As they get older, the consequences for poor behavior become greater. Behavior directly effects opportunity and relationships. When kids don’t learn to behave as they get older, they experience problems such as:
Poor grades. Losing jobs. Addictions. Dysfunctional relationships
The best time to intervene with bad behavior is when kids are young and the consequences are not as great. And while discipline isn’t always easy, there are a few tried and true methods to help your kids improve their behavior.
DON’T MISS: How To Get Kids To Listen To You
Praise Good Behavior
It’s important for us to notice when our children are behaving in positive ways. Children often misbehave if they want attention. Even negative attention is better than nothing.
The best way to get your kids to behave well is to give them attention when they do!
A simple, “I notice that you’re sitting still in your seat – that shows good manners,” will do.
After you compliment your child like this, take a moment to see the look in his eyes. Kids radiate when someone notices them for something good.
TIP: It’s even more effective when they hear us compliment them to someone else!
Set Limits and Consequences
It’s important to discuss with your children what behavior you desire from them and then provide consequences if those expectations aren’t met.
For example, if going to the movies, you can explain that you expect your child to stay in her or his seat and be quiet during the show.
At the same time, explain that if he or she doesn’t follow those directions, he or she will have a consequence. Consequences need to be meaningful for a specific child. To determine consequences think about:
- Taking away a privilege
- Taking away a toy or electronic device
- Adding a chore (this one worked especially well for my kids)
- In addition, you want to stop the behavior right away. When the child first starts to misbehave, you can nip the behavior in the bud before it gets out of control.
When children do what’s expected, tell them how much you appreciate what they did. It’s even OK to occasionally reward the good behavior beyond praise. Stay away from buying a new toy or giving food, which can create other problems.
Instead, focus on experiences for rewards such as:
- Doing something special with mom or dad
- Getting to stay up a few minutes later on a non-school night
- Getting to choose the movie or game for family night
- Reading an extra book before going to bed
- A special bubble bath with extra time to play
- A few extra minutes in the backyard to play with friends
These rewards will help kids to learn that it’s fun to do the right thing.
Be a Good Example
The most important thing we can do as parents is to model good behavior. Your kids are always watching you and they love to copy! If you show appropriate behavior, they’ll know better what’s acceptable.
But if you’re doing the wrong thing, they’ll also start to do the wrong thing. Modeling personal responsibility for your actions and behaviors is essential if you want your children to achieve their true potential.
The first time my two year old said “S%#t” ..my husband and I looked at each other with “Opps” We didn’t even realize we cussed but we shaped up fast, and I can honestly say that while my husband or I may occasionally let a cuss word slip, neither of our adult children cusses.
Look, we’re going to make mistakes as parents. It’s inevitable, as we are all flawed to some degree. But if we pay attention.. tune into their world and notice when they are out of line, or troubled, or seeking attention, we can avoid tremendous heartache later.
Over to you –
Do any of the twenty signs resonant for you? If so, which one(s)? What measures do you or did you take to improve the behavior problems of your kids? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos