The following five-step process has been trialed on thousands of families, with parents and children both routinely reporting improved outcomes. And, as I said, it generally takes around six weeks to complete.
|Changing Children's Behavior Quickly|
Step 1: Stop what you are doing
Step 2: Build belonging
Step 3: Create a culture of cooperation
Step 4: Start a new dance
Step 5: The new dance
One way of thinking about it is as a family tune-up kit. When relationships have become tense and frayed, it is worth taking time to try out a different way of getting on.
During these six weeks there will be ups and downs, successful moments, and moments when you will want to tear your hair out. In fact, I can promise you there will be more downs than ups to begin with. Bright kids are often used to getting their own way, and they are not the type of people to give up an advantage easily.
At the same time, bright kids are not "bad" kids. They are simply people who have found one way of relating to the world that works for them and they've kept using that strategy. The aim of this five-step process is to give them an opportunity to flourish and widen their definition of who they are while giving you a chance to regain your calm, sane disposition.
Changing the dance
Bright children are incredibly patterned creatures! They do the same thing, in the damn same way, over and over again.
The intensity of their anger or the depth of their hostility or the degree of their frustration might be alarming, but the actual dance steps are predictable. They have fairly limited routines. This is useful knowledge because:
If you change one of the dance steps, you change the entire dance.
At first, the behavior of bright kids looks very erratic and unpredictable. Parents often make comments like, "He just loses his cool, there is no way of predicting it" or, "There is no warning, she just makes a run for it." If, however, you can sit back and watch closely, a pattern of behaviors will appear, and once you've got that bit of knowledge you can select how to shift their behaviors to help them build better life habits.
For this reason, in Step 1 you get the really easy job of taking a break. In all situations except those that are immediately and directly life-threatening, the wisest first choice is to have a rest. By stopping whatever you are doing in relation to your child's behavior, you may have already removed 50 percent of the problem - what you have been doing. Sometimes, by continually trying to solve a problem, we can make it worse. Sitting back and not intervening allows you to look at the problem with refreshed eyes and to consider alternative ways to respond.
Be warned: when a parent decides not to intervene, the problem might escalate temporarily. This may be because the child is so used to your response that they will behave in such a way until they get the response they are looking for.
At some stage during Week 1, go and do something pleasant for yourself. Get more sleep. The next six weeks will require a lot of you, and you need to be fresh and ready to approach this. While you are resting up, observe your child's patterns closely.
Think about changing the mood of your home. If your house is like that of most bright kids, it can be fairly frantic and chaotic - not the oasis of calm you and your family deserve.
Use some of the mood changers to help you begin the change. Changing your family's diet, increasing the amount of sleep, altering the lighting, being more physically active, and playing music more regularly will send a message to all of your family that "something's up." To find out more, you can check out Changing Children's Behavior Quickly.