"Ever since my child was a toddler she has been hard to manage. I am afraid that
when she gets to 7 or 8 years-old I won't be able to control her at all. What is
wrong with her? Where did I go wrong?"
STEP 1: Rule out physical challenges. Could your child have hearing or sight impairment?
Could they be on the autism spectrum? Could they be in pain?
STEP 2: Investigate emotional challenges? Does each child get an equal amount of positive
attention as their siblings do. Being the middle child in a family or a child with a
disability sometimes requires the parent to give more attention. Maybe this is a single
parent home where time is limited? Is this child part of a blended family that may be
fretting over the loss of the absent parent or being picked on by step-siblings.
STEP 3: Is it in the genes? Is the child simply strong-willed in comparison to your other
children? If this is so, then a strong will does NOT excuse inappropriate, negative
STEP 4: Do their issues stem from you?
a) Have you established clear expectations, boundaries and consequences for negative
behaviors? Have you explained and trained your kids to meet these expectations?
b) Are you consistent? Do you apply consequences one day and not the next. Do you
model the kind of behavior you expect from your child or is there one rule for
them and another for you?
c) Are you fair in your parenting approach? Do you praise when they reach and/or
exceed your expectations? Do you forgive and forget or do you constantly
remind your child of their failings e.g. "I knew I couldn't trust you to do it right after
the mess you made of it last time." Do you compare or favor one child
over another, or treat one child more kindly than another? Do you make promises
you can't or won't keep? Do you over-react out of anger rather than allowing yourself
to cool down and become objective in your response? Do you praise more than
admonish your child?
There is no getting away from the fact that parenting is a hard and sometimes thankless job. However, when you provide a caring and loving home environment; value each child for their differences rather than try and push them into the same mold; when you spend time with each child and make an 'all out' effort to understand how they tick, what they like, how they roll and are consistent in your parenting practices, you will garner their respect, love and the positive behavior you are looking for.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families