Parenting tips; Parent Mindset Changes

My work is varied, from supporting children with low self esteem, to helping parents manage children with complex behavioural needs – and pretty much everything in between. In almost all work I do, there comes a point where we discuss parenting tips, parent mindset changes. 

The subtle (or occasionally immense) shifts parents make when they start to see behaviour through a new lens. A lens of understand and acceptance.

I’m going to tell you about these parenting tips, mindset changes parents make when we work together – and why they are so important if you want to improve child behaviour in your family.

Ive divided them into three clearly defined thought patterns which you can adopt at home to begin creating positive change in behaviour, and to reduce your own stress levels.

Parenting tips; Parent mindset changes number 1

Short term pain – long term gain.

When you make the decision to apply behaviour management in the home (and we all usually make that decision a bit later than we should!) you need to be prepared for a bit of a bumpy road! This is a temporary and normal reaction to creating change in your home systems and expectations! Often when parents start trying new strategies – they start working immediately, but after a few days the child begins to push on the boundaries to see if they can regain the control they have lost. This is normal – children like consistency and knowing what happens next. When you put new systems in place you initially wobble their world a little. 

This is unfortunately when some parents give in, give up or decide that the strategy isn\t working. But this is actually the exact moment when you need to hold fast, and stick out the temporary discomfort!

When new strategies are applied with absolute consistency a child begins to trust the ‘system’ and knows what to expect. This is the perfect platform for positive change. 

However – if you give in, your child learns that when new boundaries are in place it’s worth pushing extra hard – because it might work! 

This means every time you try to get control of behaviour, your child enters ‘testing mode’ and won’t settle as easily. Meaning you will pay for a moment of weakness for months or years to come!

In the long term – sticking out the rough patch will be absolutely worth it!

Consistency is one of the vital elements of creating positive change, but it is not always easy to achieve!

Here are some easy tips to help you in those moments where giving in seems easier!

  • Ask yourself how giving in will benefit your child in the long run – it is unlikely you will be able to find any positive reasons, and this will motivate you to stand your ground
  • Ask yourself how much worse it will be if your child learns to push your boundaries harder – none of us enjoy being rattled, and if you can recognise that it will happen more not less, you will find it easier to make a good decision
  • Walk away! – If you are feeling pushed beyond the point where you can stick to your new rules, take a moment away from your child to breathe and remind yourself why you are doing this. *Please never leave your child unless they are safe
  • Get accountability and support – Tell a friend or relative what you are dong and ask them to hold you to account. in moments of weakness, ring them and tell them you feel like giving up!

Parenting tips; Parent mindset changes number 2

 Curious not Furious

One of the most challenging issues for parents who are managing strong willed children, is preventing getting triggered ourselves.

We are human, and when a small person regularly pushes those buttons it can be really hard to avoid feeling frustrated, irritated, aggravated or furious!

However mastering this skill is absolutely essential if you want to improve bad behaviour! Here’s why:

When children are around adults who are cross, they stop focusing on the reason for the crossness, and start focusing only on the fact that you are cross with them.

Have you ever noticed that at the point you feel like you’re going to lose it your child suddenly wants to hug, or clings to you – or the classic – follows you around everywhere!

This is because they are attempting to stop the bad feelings, and being children, they are totally unaware of how to do this.

So how do . you stop yourself from being cross when behaviour is repetitive, and bad? 

The clue is in the name – Curious

Our own internal dialogue controls how we feel, so what do you say to yourself when your child behaves negatively?

Consider the following sentences, and what impact they will have on your feelings, their feelings and moving forward.

“I can’t believe they are doing this again”
“Why does he/she always do this when I’m in rush!”
“Why can’t they just behave for once?”

“What is my child feeling right now, which is causing this behaviour?”
“How can I support my child to stop doing this?”
“I wonder if they are ….tired, hungry, sad, frustrated, ashamed, anxious…..etc.etc”

You will already be realising how much more effective these questions are!

This is probably the hardest mindset shift to make – but the results are incredible. Here are some frustratingly challenging concepts which you will need to accept to create this vital shift.

  • Your child is not actually doing to ‘to’ you – it’s not about you
  • Behaviour is simply communication that they don’t feel good right now
  • They are actually doing their best (even if it’s not good enough)
  • Their best on one day, is not going to be the same as their best on another!
  • They don’t understand respect, or disrespect – they just want to feel better
  • If they are not doing better, it’s because they don’t know how, or have emotions they can’t handle right now
  • They do not actually want to behave badly 

Whilst these are extremely hard to accept – once you do accept these concepts you will find that you are rarely cross with your child, even when things are really bad!

Parenting Tips; Parent mindset changes number 3

Struggling not Naughty

This mindset shift is about changing how you see bad behaviour, which reduces your own feelings of frustration, whilst increasing the nurture available to your child.

We (humans) are designed to do our best – in whatever form that is.

Sometimes our best is not great – sometimes it’s amazing, but our emotional blueprint does not allow us to choose options which harm us emotionally (with the exception of some mental health and medical concerns) – for the main part we naturally seek out the route with the least resistance.

As we mature we are able to make the distinction between the easy way, and the right way based on our morals and values – but children are still forming these so react very authentically towards challenges. 

What this means in short, is that your child is not doing this on purpose! They are trying their best with the skills and resources they have available to them at that exact time.

Even if their best is shockingly not good enough!

That means:

  • Their behaviour is not about, or being directed at us (even if it appears to be on the surface)
  • Something is different today which is causing them to achieve less
  • They are not winding us up on purpose 
  • If they could actually do better right now, they would
  • If the right support can be provided, they will do better

Think about these statements which are frequently said to children who are behaving badly – and reflect on how they feel if the child is ‘struggling’ and not being naughty on purpose.

“I am so disappointed in you”
“Why did you do that?”
“You were embarrassing”
“Go to your room until you can behave”

How do these feel to a child who is already frustrated because they know they have done wrong?

Now clearly if your child is behaving badly, you need to be able to let them know! But, if you see them as struggling to manage, you will find yourself changing your approach to nurture their emotional needs.

“That didn’t go well, how are you feeling about it?”
“You’re having a bad day – what can I do to help?”
“I didn’t enjoy feeling like that – let’s figure out why it went wrong”
“Maybe some quiet time will help you to get back your positive behaviour”

Using this nurturing language does not mean you don’t apply consequences, or that you ignore the behaviour – but it does tell your child you care more about the cause of the behaviour than the behaviour itself.

It is also much less stressful on you! And a less stressed parent is a more supportive parent!

Many parents are astounded at the difference these simple shifts in mindset can make on the behavioural choices of their child. From starting to listen to their parents, to following instructions, and even helping out without being asked! We have to remember, children are instinctively tuned into our attitudes – they are literally designed to look for guidance! When we are calm, they are able to be calm too. 

So grab a cuppa and 5 minutes to yourself, and reflect for a moment on whether you could shift your mindset to create an environment which supports positive behavioural change.


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