How to get your child to behave - without time-outs, shouting or bribery
If you have watched any episodes of the popular "teach parents how to parent" show that is Super Nanny, you too might be living under the illusion that time out is pretty much the ultimate punishment/behavioural therapy one can exercise over one's children.
The thing is, according to clinical child psychologist and author of Raising Human Beings, Ross W. Greene, this method is flawed in many ways, and will not necessarily mould your children into a model citizen. Which, you know, is the end goal for most of us, no?
As for the bribery hamster wheel of rewards charts and stickers, well, according to Greene, this one mightn't, in fact, be all that great either, unfortunately.
So what's left to do, you might ask? Here the trick according to the author: Treat your parent/child relationship as more of a collaboration than a dictatorship, and you might find that everything will change.
Greene’s theory is that, by solving problems instead of imposing your will, you get rid of the power struggles that make sticker charts and time-outs seem like a good idea. Remember, cheesy as it might be, “there is no ‘I’ in team.”
Your Goal Is Influence, Not Control.
Greene’s method is based on a little something called collaborative problem-solving. The short version is that your goal is not to control your kid’s every move, but rather to influence their decisions as best you can, and bite your damn tongue when you can’t. How else are they going to learn?
“Being a dad doesn’t have to mean being an all-powerful, all-knowing being,” Greene in an interview with Fatherly, explaining that power struggles between parents and kids often make the relationship adversarial. “The more control you seek, the less you have."
Here are some more of his top tips for problem-solving with your kids:
1. Set clear expectations
Explain to them what you expect of them, especially for certain situations, like the flight you are about to take, or that restaurant visit happening later tonight.
2. Don’t solve problems as they’re happening
Let's face it; nobody does their best thinking in the heat of the moment. Which is why it might work out a lot better to come back to a situation once everyone has cooled off...
3. Plan a time to work it out
It needs to be when you are both calm and explain to them prior to the talk that you are going to have one.
4. Get to the root of it
Try to talk to your kids about why you are having a particular issue. Say they don't like brushing their teeth and it turns into a drama every bedtime. Instead of straight away start shouting about teeth rotting and falling out, try and get them to explain why they have an issue with brushing. Could it be that it hurts? That the toothpaste taste funny? That they find it boring? The more you know about why, the easier it will be to find a solution.
5. Devise a solution together
Try to include your kids in the solving of problems and the decision-making. "I wonder if we can find a solution to this...". be open to their suggestions (ever how crazy they may be), the important part here is just having them feel like their opinion matter.