Written by Emily Lindberg, MS, LPC-IT
Most people never think their child will become the “bad kid.” We tend to look on at the kids that struggle and wonder what is going on at home. Are their parents not giving them attention? Are they being yelled at? Or worse? Is the child just overall, bad? As a society we tend to place the blame on parents. While it is true that parenting can and does affect the behavior of children, it’s not always as simple as, “somethings going on at that kid’s house.” Some parents may find themselves with a sweet, caring, and helpful child at home, but a terror in the school or vice versa. You may even find yourself in this situation. Your child has now been labelled as the “bad kid.” Well now what?
1. Set small goals
Going through life being constantly told how bad you are or how you are doing things wrong can be disheartening. It can impact self-esteem over time. So, by starting out with small attainable goals, the child is not overwhelmed by everything they need to “fix.” Small goals appear more attainable, which can increase the child’s motivation. Reaching a goal can also provide confidence and a sense of accomplishment, potentially helping self-esteem.
2. Keep it positive
Now I’m not saying completely ignore everything the child does that is bad, but be sure to emphasize when the child does something good. Reward the good. Overtime, focusing on the good can help the child focus on the positives and also recognize better ways to get what they want.
3. Set boundaries
Set consequences ahead of time and make sure the child knows them. When we’re young, we may lack some impulse control and struggle to think through what the consequences could be. By setting these consequences ahead of time and making sure the child knows them, the child will begin to recognize, “hey, if I do this, this is the consequence.”
4. Be consistent
Children learn through watching. Even if they threw a fit ONCE and you gave in to make them stop, they learn, “hey, if I throw a fit, I can get what I want.” They will then hold onto this believe and continue to try to get what they want, even if it doesn’t always work. This may even result in an escalation of their tantrum.
5. Get help outside of the home
You may be at your wits end and feel that nothing you do will help. Fortunately, there are resources to help. Find informational books, talk to the school about setting up a plan, or find a therapist. Therapists can not only work with the child, but they may be able to provide ideas or tips to try out at home. Behavioral Health Clinic has several therapists that specialize in working with children, myself included, and we are currently accepting new clients.
Overall, just know that you are not alone and there is away to get some help. Don’t be afraid to reach out.