From time to time, all families slip into patterns that are less than helpful. With bright kids in the family, this becomes almost inevitable. The following posts represent the distillation of over 25 years of clinical practice working with bright kids and their families. They also contain ideas, suggestions, and approaches from hundreds of thousands of parents who have attended workshops to discuss their delights, dilemmas, and disasters in raising bright kids.
|How To Change Adolescent Behavior|
As clear as I hope you find the ideas in the next few posts to be, every family is different. This means you'll need to adapt these ideas to your family. No one will ever know your children as well as you do. This means that you are in the best position to judge whether any of the specific strategies I outline are appropriate to your situation.
So grab a cup of something warm to drink, a snack of something nice, and be prepared to read with a view to working out what you can use. One little bit of advice, though, before we begin: Be bold.
The chemistry behind their moods
Bright children get into moods. When you are parenting bright kids, reading moods and knowing how to change them becomes really important.
You know about moods. You've been in one yourself. For example, you might be having a day when you are not your usual bubbly self and someone says something to you that would normally cheer you up but instead you reply, "Whatever .... " Or maybe you are in a great mood, charging through life and feeling good and someone says something to you that would normally upset you but instead you reply, "Doesn't matter," "It's okay," or "It will be fine."
If you have a bright kid, you know all about moods. Have you ever had the experience of watching a child come home from school with a dark cloud over his head, and thought to yourself, "It's going to be a long, long afternoon and it's not going to get any better"? (Or words to that effect.) Ever had your child wake up in a foul mood, and thought to yourself, "He got up on the wrong side of the bed and it's not going to get any better"? (Or words to that effect.)
We are all in the business of mood changing. Parents of bright kids need to become experts in the business of creating and changing moods.
The really important thing to know is: Until you change their mood, you can't change their behavior.
When you are in a mood, you don't have many behaviors to choose from. A kid who is fired and grumpy can either be irritable and annoying or sullen and switched off. Happiness and compliance are not options that are available to them at that moment. If you expect a bright kid to shift from angry to happy without something major happening in between, you are living in fantasy land.
Let's repeat that key idea: until you change their mood, you can't change their behavior.
The moods that we all experience aren't just to do with whatever is happening that day. They also have a lot to do with the chemicals running around in our brains and bodies.
The invisible world of body and brain chemistry has as much power to shift emotions as does a happy or sad event. When parents hear this they often heave a sigh of relief: it explains why some behaviors come "out of the blue" without any warning or causative event.
While parents of bright kids don't need to become experts in neurochemistry and physiology, there are a few key brain chemicals that are well worth knowing about. This knowledge has the power to change your family.
Two brain chemicals parents of bright kids would usually like to see less of are adrenaline and cortisol. Two brain chemicals parents of bright kids would usually like to see more of are dopamine and serotonin. To find out more, you can check out How To Change Adolescent Behavior.