Kid’s Behavioral Problems – Your Fault?

Everyone has times with their child when they want to shake them and yell, “Why won’t you listen to me?!”  Well, maybe not shake them, but knock a little sense into them.  Time after time, there’s the “STAY OFF the arm of the couch – how many times have I told you?!” and the “Caps have to stay back on your markers” and of course, “Leave your sister alone!”

Stress can really start piling up when you feel like you’re not being heard, that you’re repeating yourself and never accomplishing anything.

But chances are – you are.  But is it what you want to accomplish?

A bunch of my friends and I were discussing the issues our preschool-and-up aged children were having.  Attitude issues.  A lot of it is defiance, general disobedience, etc.  We all agreed at one point that one of our biggest struggles was US.

Yeah, not the kiddo at all.


You can cause behavioral issues with your behavior.  

If you’re having a bad day and yelling or snapping at your child, don’t be surprised when they ignore you when you yell… again… and again.  Yelling is supposed to get their attention, right?  But when all you do is yell, you’ve got nothing to fall back on, and imagine for a second that your spouse spent all day yelling at YOU.  You wouldn’t feel very good about yourself, and you’d alternate between crying, trying to get positive attention instead, and being defiant since it didn’t matter what you did anyway, right?  Well, that’s what your kiddo is thinking.

Think of a person who farts and burps all day.  You may roll your eyes or comment occasionally on their rudeness, but eventually you try to ignore them.  Now imagine that… Audrey Hepburn, in all her elegance, walked into your house (yes, I know she’s dead, bear with me) and ripped a huge fart.  You’d be in shock, right?

The more POSITIVE reactions you give your child, the more of an impact your negative reactions have because they aren’t used to it.  They don’t just tune out your negative reactions if they’re used to positive ones.  Something I heard before that I constantly remind myself – children should receive a bare MINIMUM of 80% positive reactions.

This is SO MUCH HARDER than it sounds!  Most people (myself included) have a tendency to ignore their child when they’re behaving well.  You let them play quietly and do your own thing until you hear *SMASH!* and then suddenly your attention is ON THEM.  Give a whole day of this and the kid learns that Mommy only pays attention when he does x, y and z – things you DON’T want them to do.  Oops?

So, put in your DAILY vocabulary these phrases:

“Thank you so much for playing quietly!  I really appreciate it!”
“I’m very proud of you for being polite at the table.  That was a nice dinner for everyone.”
“I know I was on the phone for awhile.  It makes Mommy happy when she gets to talk to her friends.

Notice the last one was not praise for the child.  Not everything HAS to be, but they do need to understand when their behavior is good and why.

So if what you’re doing isn’t working, or your day is going downhill, STOP AND THINK about what you could have been doing to add to the problem.  Your kiddo does not WANT to be in trouble.  They want to be approved of and loved and supported.  Help them by setting the stage for them to succeed and letting them know when they do.

Also, always remind yourself that parenting is an on-going battle.  One bad day isn’t the end of the world – for anyone.  As much as you’d need an apology if your spouse yelled at you, you should apologize to your child if you yell, or things of the like.   The ONLY person YOU control is YOU.  However, the people around you can affect you, but they cannot dictate your actions for you.  Sometimes you have to choose to have a good day DESPITE those around you, and other times you can be the example everyone ELSE needs.


About Christie Haskell

I'm a Pagan, pierced, latte-sipping liberal mom to two kids and a cat. I've been on Good Morning America, HuffPo Live, and featured in a lot of online publications like New York Times Motherlode, and print publications like Kiwi Magazine. My articles focus a lot on parenting, food, and social health issues. I'm really opinionated and love to back those opinions with facts.

4 Responses

  1. J-Mel

    Oy. I needed this. Josie is being such a pain, and I know it’s because most of our attention is on her new little brother, so she’s acting out for attention. I need to remind myself to praise her good behavior. And she is good, mostly. I need to post sticky notes around the house reminding me to tell her so.


  2. I. Love. This. Post. I really needed this, especially since today was the first “I don’t like you!” I have ever heard from my son. Thank you for this post!


  3. Jenna

    Such a good reminder Christie!! I try really hard to be positive with my kids, but some days I just feel myself in this rut where all I do is snap and yell and nag. I hate it, but I have gotten better at recognizing that those day’s, it’s me, not them and if I change, chances are they will too.
    I wasn’t a cheer leader in high school, but every now and then I feel like I should just buy the costume and wear it anyway as a reminder to cheer my kids on and stay positive! LOL!


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