HOW TO TURN IRRESPONSIBLE KIDS AROUND
Irresponsible kids seem to be more prevalent these days, whether the cause is parenting or societal, or both I’m not sure. Unfortunately the cure doesn’t start with the kids. Yes unfortunately the parents are the ones that have to change first….. To clarify though, lets first look at how the conception of irresponsible children occurs. If your child is not held accountable, or a consequence not given for undesirable action then he is on the slippery slope towards irresponsibility.
So how does it involve us as parents.
Basically there are three different types of parenting types. And its not that two of them are wrong. Its just that they have to do a little bit extra to get there. So the two most challenged parenting styles would be the authoritarian whose iron fisted ruling of “I know best” parenting and makes all the decisions, causes rebellion both inwards and outwards, and also raises a child who basically is unable to think for themselves or problem solve. The second type of parenting which is problematical is the permissive parent whose aim is to placate their children and keep them happy, which of course means their children won’t experience the results of their actions.
WHATS A PARENT SHOULDN’T DO
First off don’t bail them out.
Make them accountable for their actions… Don’t offer excuses for their behaviour, no matter how trivial it may seem to you. And if they get embarrassed by the consequences of their actions, e.g. unable to attend school camp because of their behaviour, don’t try and soften the blow for them.
Don’t Back down
Don’t give in to the whining, pleading, crying, yelling and apologizing over the consequences you have placed over them not doing their chores. Stick to your guns.
Allow the natural consequences to eventuate
The natural consequences are consequences that happen as a result of the action. E.g. your son didn’t study, so he has failed the test and got a D.
Stop sorting their problems out for them
If they drag their fight into your periphery, back off letting them know that they can work this out. Their bickering to gain your attention needs to stop. Just like you to need to stop the rescuing. T hink about what your current pattern of behaviour is, and what you might do differently next time to break the pattern.
Here’s the reason that it’s so irresponsible. First you have created a repetitive reaction that is ineffective. Second as soon as you begin this repetitive action your child will switch off and jump into his reaction mode, and any grand plan of teaching/preaching you had in mind goes down the gurgler. By serving a constant reminder you also have taken the obligation off him to hear his own voice and act responsibly. The more agitated you get, the flatter they become. Plain and simply state the rules, hold your child to account and then state the consequences.
Why we nag at our children
Lets look at why, and then perhaps that will help us change.
Mothers tend to nag because they are conditioned to feel responsible for managing home and family. Women tend to be quick on the uptake and sense when something is wrong. So, if they ask for something and don’t get a response, they realise that something is wrong. However, by repeating themselves they make the situation worse.
Here is a perfect example from an expert nagger.
My daughter perpetually has her earphones on and so when I call her to tea she constantly fails to hear. In my react mode I call again, wave my arms in her face and get irritated and agitated. Now why go to all that bother. Why not just let her go hungry as a consequence. I know that she wouldn’t starve, and that my overriding fears that she will develop gross eating habits and will fade away to nothing are pretty baseless. There is nothing wrong with my daughter’s weight so who needs to change? Not her!.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
Stop and Pause
Have they been irresponsible? Take a breath, stop and pause. This is your best parenting moment. This will give you time to think about what you will RESPOND (not react), and the best options to handle it in a responsible manner. Bottom line, what’s your responsibility what is his.
Determine your child’s needs
In order to determine your responsibilities, you need to decide what that particular child needs from you. For instance, kids can operate differently from each other. One might require structure to complete a certain task so it is your responsibility to provide that structure. Another may operate better from visual stimuli. So get him to create a chart and let him take the responsibility of ticking the boxes.
The more independence your child shows the more responsible he grows.
All the teaching, preaching, moralizing and nagging we do is not making our child more responsible. It has the effect of making kids more dependant. Additionally, when you focus on a list of tasks your child “should” do, you end up creating power struggles. “By now you should be able to clean up your own toys!” Instead, focus on helping your child take charge of his life, and support him as necessary to learn each new skill. Your child will then want to step into each new responsibility. Instead of you “holding him responsible,” he becomes motivated to take responsibility for himself. It’s a subtle shift, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Start ‘em young
Raise your child with the expectation that we always clean up our own mess. So as a toddler when they spill the milk, hand them a cloth as well as you and you both clean it up. Keep your approach and tone light hearted and upbeat. Be prepared to relay this until they leave home. The fact of the matter is no kid is going to WANT TO DO CHORES. For that matter what adult does!
Get them to do the thinking
How are your children ever going to learn to think for themselves if you do the thinking for them. Get them to think what they need to do in their morning ritual and bedtimes. Prompt them with gentle queries as to what to do next until it is installed in them as a regular pattern. Once these patterns are established as a regular routine they are then starting to have structure in their lives. And structure is important because it helps kids be constructive not only with themselves but within their environment, and provides a sense of certainty and security.
Let them do it themselves
When its faster to do it yourself, hold back and let them do it for themselves when they wish to. This empowers them. You are not only teaching them to be responsible, you are teaching them the value of contributing and as well bonding together with them.
DON’T RUSH TO RESCUE YOUR CHILD
Make sure you are available though to stand by him as he problem solves the issue, though it may not be to your liking, just as long as he doesn’t avoid the problem.
Don’t allow blame
Its very easy to blame someone, or something else for the problem. Teach your children to shoulder responsibility by looking at where they played a part in the problem. So teach them to look at where they could have handled things differently, so they become responsible for their issues and not someone else.
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