Parenting Difficult Children - 4 Tips for Improving Behavior

Parenting difficult children ...

... can be exasperating and overwhelming, but is an opportunity for parents to grow closer to children who they might not feel as bonded with, as they figure out what their children really need from them.

In this article, I'll give you tips for raising what I lovingly refer to as "spirited children." (Spirited children are only "difficult" from a grownup's point of view.) As the mother of two children who can at times be quite spirited, my approach is multifaceted and includes increasing one-on-one time, setting firm limits, using effective behavioral tools with kids who are bent on being defiant and administering nutritional supplements that support brain health and optimal functioning.

In many families, parents treat their children as if they're all the same, but children, like adults, are different and have different needs. (For an excellent discussion on this and to learn how to recognize what your children really need from you, read my parenting book, Keepers of the Children.) It has been my experience that children who are viewed as "difficult" often behave in ways that show quite clearly that their needs are not being met. As the parent learns to acknowledge this and respond to the child's needs, the child's behavior is transformed.

Parenting "Difficult" Children Requires Understanding Their Needs

In the hierarchy of needs, there is the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In this article, we'll be focusing on physical and emotional needs because they come first. Physical needs are primary. For instance, if you've ever been sleep-deprived or malnourished, you know how challenging it is to control your impulses and temper. Parenting difficult children is that much more challenging when you're not getting a proper diet or enough rest. Your kids operate the same. If you're feeding them sugar all day, don't expect them to be able to control their impulses. In fact, prolonged exposure to a junk food diet may lead to deficiencies in the brain. This is why I recommend MindSoothe Jr, a natural supplement that helps facilitate reasonable moods, and supports the neurotransmitters that create a sense of calm and elevate mood: serotonin and dopamine. Nourish your child's brain and his behavior will improve. I've been witness to remarkable improvements time and time again, using natural supplementation, particularly when a child's diet has been poor for some time. Of course, supplementation is no substitute for a healthy diet, which includes fresh vegetables and fruits, lean, quality proteins and whole grains.

Parenting difficult children? Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you're really giving your kids the attention they need.

If you're failing to give each child in your family one-on-one time, then you are not addressing their emotional needs. Children need at least one caring adult to listen when they tell stories about how they see the world. They need someone to share their interests with—someone who cares about what they have to say. When children get attention for being who they are, they do not need to get attention in negative ways.

Spend one-on-one time with each child in your family by just being together or doing an activity that he or she enjoys. Pay attention to your child's fascinations and interests and you will be rewarded with a calmer, more centered child. To learn more about this and how quality time differs from what I call "quantity time," read my parenting tips for spending time with your child.

Set limits. Do not enable or ignore negative behavior. Although I frown on the exclusive reliance of rewards and punishments in raising children because it teaches them to be externally motivated (rather than motivated from within), a fun behavioral tool that we've used occasionally in my home is called Better Behavior Wheel. My boys loved spinning it, whether they were spinning for a consequence or reward. Best of all, it can be customized to work with your family values.

If your child has serious behavioral issues and is chronically defiant, then I recommend you try a program developed by a therapist who has helped transform the lives of countless kids with his techniques which he has recently adapted for home use. To learn more or get a free trial go to Total Transformation.

I hope these tips will help you see that parenting difficult children can be rewarding and transformative, especially as you start to do the work to turn things around. As you start to see what your children need from you and respond accordingly, you'll learn how to build a relationship that is based on trust, love and mutual respect.

If you need one-on-one help with your child, click on parenting coach to read about my individual coaching service.

About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children. She has been making her articles available to parents just like you for over 9 years now.

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