Children will always be children. But as parents, it is very important we keep a check on them. In my previous article, I mentioned that our children usually see us as their first role models, and learn some attitudes from us. The slang you use, your choice of words and mannerism are very important.
As parents, we love to see our toddlers behave like adults. In fact, most times, when you hear a toddler say certain things, we say “that girl is intelligent for her age.”Yes, it”s okay, but we should learn to channel their intelligence to positive directions. Here’s a list of the common behaviour problems you should never ignore. Ignoring these things will likely cause negative behavioural traits you won’t be able to control in the future.
1. Interrupting When You’re Talking
Children love attention -so much that when you don’t give them the attention they need, they start to throw tantrums. It is important to manage your child’s expectations, because he/she can’t be the center of attention 24/7! Your child may be incredibly excited to tell you something or ask a question, but allowing her to interrupt your conversations doesn’t teach her how to be considerate of others or occupy herself when you’re busy. If this is not curbed quickly, your child might develop the mentality that he/she is entitled to other people’s attention and won’t be able to tolerate frustration.
How to stop it: The next time you’re about to make a call or visit with a friend, tell your child that she needs to be quiet and not interrupt you. Then settle her into an activity or let her play with a special toy that she doesn’t usually have access to. If she tugs on your arm while you’re talking, point to a chair or stair and tell her quietly to sit there until you’re finished. Afterward, let her know that she won’t get what she’s asking for when she interrupts you.
2. Playing Too Rough (with Friends)
Rough play should not be condoned. Don’t be deceived by thinking your child is ‘just being energetic.’Children tend to convince themselves that anything that they are not being scolded for is acceptable behaviour. This tends to manifest in elevated levels of violent behaviour at later ages. You know that you have to step in when your child punches a playmate/friend. You shouldn’t also disregard ‘simple’ones like pinching or pushing.
How to stop it: Confront aggressive behavior on the spot. Pull your child aside and let him know that any action that hurts another person is not allowed. Before his next playdate, remind him that he shouldn’t play rough. If he does it again, end the playdate.
Also make sure your child learns to tolerate not being the focus of the room all the time. If he/she acts out, demanding attention, inform him/her that she needs to respect others when they are talking.
Keep an eye out for subtle signs of such behaviour. If you find it, work to teach your child how to deal with anger. Create empathy with questions – ‘You just hurt your friend. Would you like it if he did that to you?’
3. Pretending Not to Hear You
Children who pretend their parents don’t exist are likely to have serious problems with authority in the future. Allowing them to get away with ignoring instructions allows an easy loophole for disobedience and dishonesty in the future. Telling your child two, three, even four times to do something she doesn’t want to do, such as get into the car or pick up her toys, sends the message that it’s okay to disregard you and that she–not you–is running the show. A psychologist said “Reminding your child again and again just trains her to wait for the next reminder rather than to pay attention to you the first time you tell her something.”
How to stop it: Instead of talking to your child from across the room, walk over to her and tell her what she needs to do. Have her look at you when you’re speaking and respond by saying, “Okay, Mummy.” If she doesn’t get moving, impose a consequence, and follow through. Some of us mums are used to making threats that we don’t follow through, and our children just get used to it and know “mummy always says that, but never does anything.”
4. Taking Things (Especially Food Items) Themselves
It is convenient when your child can get his own snack or control the TV, but letting him have control of activities that you should regulate doesn’t teach him that he has to follow rules. Dr. Wyckoff says “It may be cute when your 2-year-old walks along the counter to get the cookies out of the cabinet, but just wait until he’s 8 and goes to visit a friend who lives three blocks away without asking.”
How to stop it: Establish a small number of house rules, and talk about them with your child often (“You have to ask whether you can have sweets because that’s the rule”). If your child turns on the TV without permission, for instance, tell him to turn it off and say, “You need to ask me before you turn on the television.” Stating the rule out loud will help him understand better.
5. Being Restless even for Short Durations
While some children may actually suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and other related problems, a lot of children are simply excessively noisy – this often leads to children who can’t respect the privacy and requests of others in a public setting.
How to stop it: Teaching children healthy hobbies, especially ones that involve concentration – such as reading, drawing and painting – is a simple and fun way to improve their concentration and teach them to enjoy silence.
6. Having a Little Attitude
Young children often imitate older kids, and a little bit of attitude may develop as a result of this. While many parents dismiss this as a phase, it’s important to address it, as it can easily lead to rude and rebellious pre-teen behaviour. You may not think your child is going to roll her eyes or use a rude tone until she’s a preteen, but rude behavior often starts when children mimic older kids to test their parents’ reaction. Some parents ignore it because they think it’s a passing phase, but if you don’t confront it, you may find yourself with a disrespectful teenager who has a hard time making and keeping friends and getting along with teachers and other adults.
How to stop it: Make your child aware of her behavior. The idea isn’t to make your child feel bad but to show her how she looks or sounds. If the behavior continues, you can refuse to interact and walk away. Say, “My ears don’t hear you when you speak to me that way. When you’re ready to talk nicely, I’ll listen.” Explaining to a child that her behaviour is disrespectful is an important part of correcting such attitude problems.
7. Exaggerating the Truth
Children love to tell good stories, and often, they will spice up little details. This is all very well when there’s a grownup around to clarify that no, the monkey at the zoo was not the size of a building. But when the exaggerations are simpler and more believable – ‘My daddy has an aeroplane’ or ‘I have a pet elephant in our village’ – it becomes important to step in and have a talk.
Lying can become second nature if a child figures out that it’s a way to make himself look better or avoid getting in trouble. It may not seem like a big deal if your child tells a friend that he’s been to Disneyland when he’s never even been on a plane, but it’s important to confront any type of dishonesty head-on.
How to stop it: When your child tells a lie, sit down with him and set the record straight. Say, “It would be fun to go to Disneyland, and maybe we can go some day, but you shouldn’t tell your friend that you’ve been there when you really haven’t.” Let him know that if he doesn’t always tell the truth, people won’t believe what he says. Look at his motivation for lying, and make sure he doesn’t achieve his goal. For example, if he said that he brushed his teeth when he didn’t, have him go back and brush them.
We hope you gained something from this article. Remember to be patient and consistent with your little ones, and to be there to talk and support them at all times.