Do you have an unruly or sad child? Is your child hyperactive and/or defiant? Are time outs, discipline and shouting matches not working?
I have done hundreds of hours of research on discipline and behavior with children. I have put to test every tip I read to practice on my own children. It all boils down to TWO critical keys to why your children are misbehaving: Sugar and lack of positive reinforcement. If you can put the following tips to practice, you will discover a whole new child. Remember, bad children are only bad because they are are not having their emotional or physical needs met by their parents. A bad kid will never be good if the parents don’t change. If your kids have behavior that is not acceptable, you must acknowledge that the person who needs to change first is…YOU!
On Wednesday September 16th, 2009 Primetime: Family Secrets on CBS had an entire 1-hour epoisode on behavior with children. They profiled 3 families who agreed to have hidden cameras in their home. A panel of experts reviewed the video footage and “diagnosed” why the children were so defiant towards their parents. What the experts pointed out is that all parents are extremely critical towards their children: “Get your shoes on, take your feet off the table, don’t hit your sister, be quiet, do your homework!!!”…and the list goes on. These parents never praised their kids for doing anything right, they only criticised their kids the things they were doing wrong. As a result, their kids were confused, angry, upset, defiant and overall very hard to manage. Once these parents changed their communication and hourly/daily found things to praise their kids for and communicated phrases like “great job”, “high five”, “I’m so proud of you”, “you are so smart”, etc… their children’s behavior improved dramatically.
After watching this show, I took an assessment of the relationship I have with my 4-year old. The one time of day I always struggle with her behavior is in the early mornings. A typical morning for us goes like this:
“Conley, it’s time to get dressed for school.”
“Conley, I’m going to count to 3 – 1…2…
(meltdown..then she finally gets dressed with a struggle)
Same goes for brushing teeth and eating breakfast – defiant, defiant, defiant!
So I asked myself: Am I like a drill sargent in the morning? Have I ever praised her for doing good things in the morning? Considering I am a tired wreck at 6am, I am probably a giant grouch towards her. I realized I am at my all-time worst as a parent in the mornings, so it was time to change. The very next morning, I greeted Conley with a big hug.
“Have you gone potty yet?”
“Good job!” (high-five)
(I could immediately see her face light up)
I asked her to help me get the bowls and spoons for the cereal. “Thank you, honey. I appreciate your help this morning!” (another high-five)
Then it was time to get dressed for school. My most dreadful moment of every day. I said, “Conley, it’s time to get dressed for school.” I took a deep breath. Conley said, “Mommy, I have an idea. Why don’t we have a contest to see who can get dressed the fastest. Ready, set, go!” In lightning speed my daughter was dress, shoes on, teeth brushed and ready to go to school. No wresting match, no haggling. My lack of criticism and focus on positive reinforment not only worked – but it worked wonderfully! Every day this week mommy has been much more positive – and as a result my daughter has been a joy to deal with.
* The show on CBS stressed that sometime it takes children time to change, especially if they have been dealing with an overly-critical parent for a long period of time. But don’t give up on your positive reinforcements. It may take 2-4-10 weeks to really see a change in your children, but remember the real change starts with…YOU!
How much sugar do your children digest each day? Be really honest with yourself here. Are they drinking fruit juices, Sprite, Gatorade, sweetened cereal, sweetened applesauce, cookies, popcicles, candy, granola bars, etc…? Parents and schools are notorious for inundating kids with sugar. I have had dozens of parents complain to me about their children’s behavior, and 100% of the time those kids are sucking down a popcicle as their mother is begging me for help.
Here is my challenge to you: DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILDREN ONE MORSEL OF SUGAR FOR 10 DAYS: no fruit juice, no Sprite, no cookies….NOTHING! You will be amazed at the changes in your children: far less hyperactivity, more attentive, more respectful, less defiant, better sleep, and overall better health. ** Even if your child did not have misbehavior, it is essential that you are responsible with the foods you feed your kids for both their short-term and long-term health.
If your kids are addicted to sugar, detoxing them won’t be easy in the beginning. But HANG IN THERE. Don’t give up. After 5,7, 10 days your kids will start to realize that blueberries taste pretty good. And water isn’t so bad either.
10 Snacks for Kids with NO SUGAR:
1. Fruit, fruit and more fruit (fresh fruit – not out of a can)
2. Veggies with a little bit of ranch dressing
3. UNSWEETENED applesause, blueberrysauce or pomgranate sauce
4. Cheese and crackers
5. UNSWEETENED yogurt (or throw some fruit in for added flavor)
6. High fiber, UNSWEETENED cereal (Kashi is my top pick)
7. Hummus with pita bread (YUM!)
8. Water, water, water! NO juice, sodas or sports drinks
9. White milk
10. Whole wheat tortillas with salsa