“Oh no, this unbelievable energy level throughout the day is killing me,” or “Why do you have to just yell and run around and throw things, can’t you just sit and play with a toy?” Yes, no child grows up without these lines being thrown at them now and then. It is just a fact of life that our children do misbehave now and then. They shout, scream, fling things around and even cry continuously till they get what they want or can do what they like. We have faced such situations quite often as parents. Situations like these leave us with a number of options on how to handle these loud, chaotic and unhappy reactions. A good management technique for us to use could be choosing to distract or redirect their attention when they are misbehaving.
Let’s start with the smart ones – the toddlers! Saying “no-no” to them often results in loud and unhappy reactions from them. They also get so involved in their activities that they lose sight of everything else, including behavioral guidelines that we as parents have implemented. Additionally, it takes them a while to internalize the tendency to control their emotions, making them prone to excessive display of anger or frustration when things don’t go their way. While it is necessary to use a clear and distinct “no!” for disobedience related to safety rules, most of the lesser offences need to be handled with a simple redirection of their attention. For example, if they seem determined to jump on the sofa or hit on the windowpanes with a stick, they should be taken to a place where they can jump, or given a game where they can throw a ball or hit a ball with a bat. Distracting the very young children with movement, soft music or introducing an interesting object can work sometimes. Initiating fun activities or changing the setting can also work. Requests for inappropriate snacks or beverages should be handled by offering healthy kid-friendly colourful treats.
Beyond toddlers, things don’t get easier or better to handle, and it’s good for us to remember that! At this stage, the children cannot be easily “fooled” into accepting things that they don't want. Often, school aged children are fully aware of parental expectations, but will test their limits, nonetheless. Understanding simple cause and effect can help children of this age understand the results of their actions, leading them to make conscious choices. It is wise to offer appropriate alternatives, allowing parents and kids to both go away from negotiations feeling they’re both “won”. The possibility of a “second choice” makes children feel that they have some control over their lives, while learning also to keep their behavior within the guidelines that have been laid down by us.
As our children get older, energy redirection gets tough if we make a late start. By then children have already started having fixed ways of handling situations and are difficult to guide or change. However, we need to still make attempts without losing our cool or finding fault all the time.
It is a nice feeling when there is a focus on the good stuff. So, choosing to spotlight the good choices and behaviours now and then and minimizing the attention given to naughty actions can have enormous effects on the happiness levels of the household……!