How can you cut behavioral problems off at the pass or at least deal with them in a way that makes them less powerful or less frequent? It really all comes down to common sense and compassion for your kids.
The first thing you need to do is have a good relationship with your child. Kids are more likely to follow the rules if they feel loved, respected, and approved of. Bonding and connection are very important.
In addition, I notice that many parents don’t make the rules clear. For example, a lot of you just say, “Go clean your room!”, but what does “clean your room” really mean? When I was a kid, that meant taking everything and shoving it in the bottom of the closet so that the room looked clean.
You need to be clear about what the expectations are and keep them reasonable. Calmly explain the rules and what the consequences will be if the rules are broken. Kids are less likely to challenge the rules if they know up front what is going to happen. If they don’t know, they’re more likely to take the risk.
Next, you need to compliment your kids. Far too often, parents only pay attention when their kids misbehave rather than spending time to point out all the good things their children do, no matter how microscopic. Notice and compliment!
You also need to talk to your kids about their feelings. Kids have all kinds of feelings, and they’re not really sure what they all are or what to do with them. When you sit with your kids time and time again and discuss the whole range of feelings that human beings have and the alternatives to deal with them, you’re teaching them how to cope with those feelings.
Lastly, plan ahead. If you think in advance about how your child is going to respond to a certain situation, you can avoid that situation before it becomes an issue.