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The Disservice You Probably Don’t Even Realize You’re Doing to Your Kids

Your child is amazing and unique. When you see him clean up without asking or put his dish in the sink without a reminder, you believe that every cell in his body is pure love.

Then there are the other moments. Last week she pulled all the boxes off the shelf at CVS after biting her friend at the playground, and if that wasn’t enough, today she declares that she doesn’t have to listen to you in front of her teacher and looks right at you as she pours his milk on his sister.

It’s not the most flattering day behavior is it?

What to do?

You know that keeping your child within reach at all times is exhausting.
Not leaving the house is another option, but then who will do the errands?
You can make excuses for the bad behavior: He’s tired. Hungry. Coming down with something.

I’ve got some unfortunate news: When you make excuses or completely avoid a challenging situation you do your child a disservice.

That means that the ultimate solution is to address the behavior. 

I’ve seen children with ADHD sit and focus on their homework, kids with ODD listen to every direction given and kiddos with autism navigate overwhelming social situations. If these kids can be successful, then so can your child.

The solution on how to make this happen comes in two parts:

1. Stop making excuses for your small beings. They are capable of learning anything if you teach them in the right way. If you allow the problem behavior to be okay, then they learn that it is okay and it is more likely the behavior will happen again in the future. Your language alone can change this piece.
2. Look realistically at the challenging behavior. Decide if it really needs to change. If it does, great! Then take one step towards the desired behavior and start celebrating the small progress your child makes. If it does not need to change, then stop commenting on it and let it happen.
3. Teach your children rather than punish them. When problem behavior props up, we often react with our own frustration. Problem behavior is often repeated, so you may be able to predict when it is coming. Be proactive and get yourself ready to teach your child rather than yell once they misbehave.
4. Create teaching opportunities. We generally avoid things that we do not enjoy, so we often do not put children in situations that will be challenging. The best way to get them to practice is to put your child in situations that are mildly difficult and use small steps to build up successes!

I’ll be your cheerleader here: Stop making excuses and start putting in the hard work to make behavior change happen!

For more help with behavior please visit my page made exclusively for Kids in the House readers at: bit.ly/DrM-KITH

Dr. Marcie is a behavioral therapist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families over 15 years and has condensed her observations into her practice and programs

Behavior Therapist

Dr. Marcie has realistic ideas for the real-life behaviors that parents and professionals face. For over 15 years, Dr. Marcie has created tantrum-free zones for thousands of families, many being the most challenging cases, and has effective and tested strategies for today's parents and educators to regain control of their children, their lives and their classrooms. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctorate, and earned her Doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University and her New York State Certification as a Special Education Teacher and Administrator. Dr. Marcie conducts professional development and parenting trainings privately, at universities, at day care centers, as well as pre-school, elementary and secondary schools around the country, and has a column in NY Parenting.