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Bad Child Attitude - What Caring Parents Can Do

Child Attitude and What To Do About It

While parents should deal with child attitude problems as they occur, it's important to know the difference between issues that are a normal part of development and those that are chronic and will get worse with time.

Obviously, children will misbehave from time to time, particularly during the years when they are struggling to discover their own identity, determine what they are capable of and learn the limits of others. This is especially true during ages 2-5 and adolescence.

It's important to deal with child attitude problems on the spot, so you can avoid more serious issues later on. Understand that you really can't change a child's attitude because their attitude stems from their feelings, but you can help them change their behavior. When a child learns how to change their behavior and do things that will make him feel good about himself, his attitude will naturally improve.

First of all, it's important to realize that you are not alone in dealing with child attitude issues. No matter how happy other families look on the outside, they have probably had similar issues with their kids at one time or another, unless the child attitude problem is chronic (we'll address this later on. If you have a child who is defiant at every turn, read the last few paragraphs of this article).

child attitude

For parents whose children are occasionally defiant, here are some things to be aware of:

  • In a child, tantrums are usually caused by frustration, fatigue, hunger and overwhelm. Often, they are a way for children to release pent-up stress and unexpressed feelings. A child doesn't know how to express in detail how he feels and so he resorts to outbursts and lets it all go at once. If you react to your child's expression of feelings with annoyance or anger of your own, you are encouraging tantrums and letting yourself get pulled into the drama.

  • Instead, you need to learn how to maintain a calm exterior, despite the fact that whining, arguing and outbursts try your patience. When handling a child with attitude, your job is to teach him how to express his feelings in appropriate and positive ways.

  • Before dealing with a child with attitude, take a look at how you handle your own anger. Children learn to express their anger by modeling their parents. They tend to mimic those around them, especially the people they trust and care about. Be honest with yourself. What do you do when you're angry? How do you treat others when you're feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious or impatient?

  • Sometimes, tantrums or child attitude results from a child who is not getting enough attention. If your child throws a fit, he will get your attention quickly. Not only that, it will be a very focused attention. If you suspect that you're not spending enough time with your child, be sure to make one-on-one time. Eliminate distractions and focus on your child.

  • It helps to connect with your child after school to see how his day went. Ask questions listen attentively and show empathy for his struggles. Even though my kids are teenagers, we still talk about their school day each and every day. A child with attitude will do better at home and at school if he has someone to talk to, someone who has a pulse on what's going on in his life.

Helping Kids with Chronic Bad Attitudes

Typically, chronic child attitude issues are managed by giving rewards or taking away privileges. The consequences for inappropriate behavior should be swift and relevant. Do not threaten and fail to follow through if the behavior escalates because this only teaches the child that you don't mean business. Make sure your kids know ahead of time which privileges will be withdrawn if you've had problems with particular behaviors. For instance, if your son disrespects you when his friends are over, you can say, "If you treat me disrespectfully again in front of your friends, then they will have to go home immediately." Clearly defining the limits creates expectations for good behavior, forces your child to take responsibility for his behavior and puts you in charge.

If you have a child with attitude who is out of control, defiant, abuse and disrespectful on a regular basis, then you need to take immediate action. Doing so, can save your child's life. I know this sounds harsh, but kids who are oppositional and defiant as young people tend to grow into teens and adults who are antisocial or engage in criminal behavior.

For years, I have been recommending an at-home behavioral program for parents of such children. The program can be used in the privacy of your home without dragging your child into therapy with a stranger. In it, you'll learn the parenting skills to help your child change his behavior step-by-step. When your child makes small changes in his behavior, child attitude will naturally improve. Best of all, as you learn to work together to create positive change, your child will see you as the person who helped him turn his life around which will make for a better relationship and improved respect. I have gone through this program myself. It is not punitive. It helps parents define the limits in a firm, but caring way, while supporting their child's strivings toward independence.

For more information on this program read the Total Transformation review

About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, the parenting book that won a Nautilus Award from Martha Stewart Omnivision which honors books that promote conscious living and social change.

Child Attitude - Child Behavior


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