When kids misbehave

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When kids misbehave

In my 40 years of parent consulting, I don't think there was a question asked more frequently than, what to do when. This is at the top of any parent's mind. The key is to realize that most problem behavior is rooted in instinct and emotion. It's rather useless to battle against the symptoms. The issue, the modus operandi, of the incident is to do no harm. If we do no harm, if we didn't harm the relationship, we didn't harm the dignity, we were able to get out of the situation without exacerbating the situation; we would do well. We put way too much emphasis on the incident. What we want to do, if we throw an infraction flag, that's not the way to speak to your sister, that's not the kind of words we use in our house, or you know that you were supposed to turn off the television ten minutes ago. If we throw the infraction flag, we should do so simply, and without shaming the child. When we throw the infraction flag, the most important thing to do is to bridge the problem behavior. To bridge is to go right over the problem behavior to what stays the same to the next point of connection. What that does, the bridging action, is it says that the relationship is more important than the problem. You say, "It's okay. I'm still your dad. I'm looking forward to watching the game with you," but you bridge the problem behavior. That gets the relationship thing out of the way. Every child want so to know, "Are we okay?" Now we can deal with the problem. The incident, we're better off thinking about it first. We're better off getting out of the incident sooner rather than later. The thing to realize is the place to dealing with problem behavior context, it's the problem, not the relationship. Once you activate the relationship, you get the eyes, the smile, the nod, then go to work. Try to bring the child around with good intention. There's so much we can do to get to the root problem. We can make tremendous strides in this, but the incident is not to do our work. Nothing replaces talking. Talking with our child is the most important way of interacting with them.

See Gordon Neufeld, PhD's video on When kids misbehave...


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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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