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Ain’t Misbehavin’: Easy Ways to Prevent Your Child’s Bad Behavior

When your child is misbehaving, consider these simple tips to prevent it from happening again.  From The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by New York Times bestselling author and clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

If you keep running into trouble with your child at specific times — getting ready for school, mealtime, homework, bedtime — it may be that you are inadvertently placing a stumbling block before him. Look for the pattern in the unacceptable behavior, and think about restructuring the situation rather than repeatedly punishing your child for not behaving the way you want him to. To reduce the opportunities for your child to misbehave, ask yourself:

  • Does the trouble arise when my child is hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? When I am?
  • Is his schoolwork too difficult? Too easy?
  • Does my child have enough stimulating things to do? A new study of sibling rivalry shows that its primary cause is not a desire to get parents’ attention but boredom.
  • Is my child suffocating? If children can touch someone else in all four directions all day long they are too boxed in. All children need some time to themselves to unwind.
  • Does my child have a long enough recess break at school? Does he have some time between school, homework, and bedtime to play?
  • Is my child sleep-deprived?
  • Does my child have a headache from eyestrain?
  • Has my child been tested for hearing problems?

In general, watch for common “meltdown” situations: shopping for groceries with hungry, tired children on the way home from day care; Star-Spangled Chips Ahoy in the cupboard when you want the children to eat fruit for dessert; Super Soaker birthday parties when you’ve got a child who gets overexcited by a rowdy crowd; MTV on in the house when you don’t want your daughter lobbying for tiny tank tops and platform boots.

Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (Copyright © 2001 by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.) is a clinical psychologist, parent educator, and keynote speaker for educational and religious organizations and schools. She lives in Los Angeles and is at work on her next book, The Blessing of a B Minus.




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