Communication relationship parent mom and child daughter teenager

Change Your Child’s Behaviour & Maintain The Relationship: 3 Great Tips!

If you’re a parent, you have worried about your child. You have also likely been in situations when you are extremely frustrated with your child. This frustration can make you say or even think things that you may feel guilty about afterwards. Even burnt out. Part of parenting is setting boundaries for your child but also providing comfort. What does one do when these goals seeming conflict? Here are some ideas for how get your child on board with behaviour change. You CAN change your child’s behaviour AND maintain the relationship.

1. Make it into a game

Kids love video games (adults often do to! Candy crush anyone?) Video games use psychology to keep us humans playing. How do they do it? They simply reward you at intervals that keep you playing. This can be done with positive behaviours. Identify the behaviour that needs to change. Create a rewards plan. Create a chart. Every time your child completes the good behaviour, mark it on the chart. It can be a check mark or a gold star (one of my clients chose carrot stickers after the proverbial carrot vs. stick). After a certain number of successes give your child a pre-determined reward.

Have your child contribute to the process, especially in choosing rewards. For teens, maybe it is being able to stay out with friends later more often. Broaden your idea of what is rewarding, it does not have to be material things. A reward can be extra screen time, a fun activity or choosing what’s for dinner. Make sure the reward is something that your child will find rewarding. Let them come up with a list of rewards and then you can arrange them in an order that makes sense. Appropriate rewards can help motivate your child to change. They can help strengthen your relationship.

2. Model the emotional behaviour you want to see

Many kids won’t necessarily realize that they are throwing tantrums or being oppositional to get what they want. Giving them what they want will cause the tantrums to be repeated. So, avoid the urge to give in because that will send the message that the behaviour works. Instead, tell them you will talk to them once they are calm. More importantly. Speak out loud when you are experiencing negative emotions and make it a teachable moment. Say I’m sorry I yelled at you, I am feeling frustrated because of work. Then say: “Let me take a couple of deep breaths, because that usually helps me”. After the breaths, say: “Ok now that I am feeling calmer, how can I help you find a solution”. Demonstrating that something works and that you are using it yourself will be motivating for your child. Looking to change your child’s behaviour and maintain the relationship with them? Be a model of what you expect.

3. Validate, Validate, Validate

The most common complaint I hear from kids and teens is that “my parents don’t understand me.” Be sure to validate anything valid. This could be something like: I see you are very upset, right now. That makes sense considering what happened. Or it could be more of a compliment: wow! good job at starting your homework earlier tonight. It could also be a personal disclosure, as long as it’s genuine. “When I was in high school, I really struggled to fit in, too. It’s a hard place to be”. Validation can even be actively listening to your child. Validation is not an easy thing to learn but it pays dividends. Validating let’s your child know that you want a relationship with them, and understand that changing behaviour is not easy.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. For more details and other great strategies check out this handy guide. You can change your child’s behaviour and maintain the relationship with them – it just takes work.

Get a free, no obligation 15 minute consultation

Because everyone deserves to be Healthy & Happy

Share this post