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3 Easy Ways to Change Your Child’s Behavior
If your child is not behaving the way you want, you need to change the way you deal with the problems. It just won’t work to keep using the same old parenting techniques. If they haven’t worked yet, they won’t. Here are three easy things you can do to make your child want to do what you ask.
The idea of negotiating with their children is one idea that many parents simply cannot grasp. In our parenting class, we are often met with a flat refusal at first. “I’m the parent. I don’t negotiate. My kids have to follow my rules.”
By negotiating, you show your child that you are open to their point of view. It shows that you respect them and that you care about how they feel. It opens many new lines of communication between parents and children. And, if handled correctly, both parties leave happy.
Your child will respect you more if you are willing to listen to how they feel. By communicating with your child, they know that their feelings are validated and that you care about how they feel. They won’t need to win every negotiation – and neither will you.
When negotiating, remember that the first time you drop off your child, the negotiation will end. Your child will not be interested in continuing a conversation in which you make them feel bad about themselves.
One woman in our parenting class tried to negotiate with her 12-year-old daughter about a new dress for her first dance. The daughter was put on a full-length dress. The mother wanted her to choose a dress that ended mid-calf. During the negotiation, the mother said: “You know how clumsy you are. You’re going to trip over that hem and fall on your face in front of all your friends. They’re going to get a real kick out of it.” The daughter was used to being taken down. She had heard them all her life. She calmly chose the mid-calf dress just to finish the topic.
In our next parenting class, the mother reported that her daughter did not negotiate much. The mother tried to negotiate, but the daughter refused. While they ended up buying the dress the mother wanted, the daughter was not happy with the decision.
Put down are not part of any negotiation – or any conversation. If you catch yourself putting your child down. stop Ask for forgiveness. Really apologize. And move on.
Some topics you might want to start a conversation about might be:
whether to take out the trash at night or in the morning
Friday night television
Using negotiation not only shows your child that you respect them, it teaches them reasoning skills that will help them throughout life.
2. Good Choices / Bad Choices
All success and failure comes from choices we make. Being able to reflect on our choices enables our children to make better choices more often – and to accept the negative consequences of bad choices. Once they understand that a bad thing happened because of a choice they made, they can move to make a better choice to fix the problem or to avoid it altogether next time. If they are not taught consequences, they will not learn to make good choices.
We had one parent in our parenting class who complained about the school picking on his son. He failed English because he forgot to hand in several required papers. She went to the school several times to talk to the teacher but the teacher did not budge. She asked how to help her son.
I told her, “Let him fail.”
Good parents protect their children from serious injury. Good parents also hang around and don’t “overprotect” so that their children learn consequences. All children will make wrong choices as they grow up. When they have to deal with the consequences, they learn what choices they made to get into the mess and also learn to reflect on choices. Your child will learn much faster from dealing with his choices than from all the prevention preaching you could give him. Let them fail.
After they fail, don’t say “I told you so”. Don’t rejoice. Don’t tell them they are alone. Let them know you are there for them. Help them get back on track. Talk to them about it. Softly point out that the consequence is a direct result of a choice they made. Help them learn to make good choices, but don’t downplay bad choices.
Your goal, as a parent, is to teach your child that life is better when they make good choices. Making good choices isn’t always easy – but it always makes life better.
Some options your child can start learning today:
Don’t finish your homework… you’re failing the class
Don’t take your toys…the dog might destroy them (or they might be thrown away)
Take your hands off the handlebars of your bike…you might fall
Learn to give your advice, and then step back and let the aftermath teach your child. You can help your child make the right choice, but let him make the choice and deal with wither the good outcome or the bad outcome. Praise him when he makes a good choice – but never belittle him for a bad choice.
3. No Ranting
Constant negative comments eat away at your child’s self-esteem. It never helps a child’s behavior. In fact, it often makes it worse.
Some parents think they have to point out every time their child misbehaves to teach the child what they are doing wrong. They end up with a child who is nervous and afraid to do anything to disappoint their parent again. Or worse, they end up with a child who acts out even more.
Instead of getting upset, start looking for something they did well and point it out.
Instead of “I told you to clean your room. Get in there and do it now!”
Try this: “Thanks for taking your toys out of the living room. I like it when it looks nice.”
Instead of “Did you brush your teeth like I told you to? I’m getting tired of having to remind you.”
Try this: “I’m proud you put your pajamas on yourself.”
In these two examples, we ignore things we really want to do. But we build a foundation of confidence and self-esteem in our child. It won’t take long for our child to start looking for more ways to earn praise. Once they get a taste of what praise feels like, they will start doing things to get more praise.
Three easy things to change how your child acts. Easy for parents. Great for kids. Try it today.
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