So much has been written about children’s behaviour or the managing of behaviour in children. Behaviour is an action, reaction, display of character or response. Good behaviour, however, is what is acceptable to the adult caring for a child at any particular time. What is good behaviour, when it comes to children? Is it when children follow the instruction given to them without any fuss or complain to the adult; Or when they are being rewarded for participating in something positive. In most cases, ‘do as you are told’, shows you are of good behaviour.
A child being described as showing good behaviour is the perception of the adult the child is trying to please. Children who are abused or groomed sexually, have been told by their abuser that when they are ‘good’ or ‘behave’ they will be rewarded positively. This scenario shows that the good behaviour of the child is based on what the adult demands from him or her. Does this mean it is right? Of cause not but in the eye of the child, this behaviour is rewarded positively. That means it must be good and acceptable. Some children are overly nice and helpful, which has gotten them into more inconvenience. A case comes to mind of a child who helped another child during an exam. The helpful child had finished her exam paper but noticed that the child sitting next to her was finding it difficult, so decided to help. Other children have been nasty in fighting off a bully, which at the time was seen as appropriate behaviour for defending themselves.
What am I saying? The onus of a child showing good behaviour falls entirely on the adult. In simple term, adults are responsible for developing effective behaviour in children. A child cannot just develop good behaviour overnight, or throughout their developmental years without any definitive guide or input from the adult. Rather, s/he responds to the adult who is responsible for caring and developing him/her. Whatever the adult pours into the child is what the child bears. When a toddler swears, the adult caring for the toddler is responsible for that pattern of behaviour based on what he/she is exposed to.
Do personality and genetics plays a part in the behaviour of children? Maybe. Some parents have said ‘my child is naturally good and well behaved’ while others have said ‘out of all my four children, my third child is the most difficult.’ It can be debated that the birth position of the child, the socioeconomic level of the family, the time frame of when the child was born and many other factors affected the behaviour of the child. The debate can go on. The majority of the time, one thing is for certain. The behaviour of the child, whether good or bad, rests solely on the adult. According to Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
I remember at the age of 5 or 6 my dad asked me to spell ‘Cat’ and I found it quite difficult. I sounded it out phonetically but still found it hard to spell. He tugged my ear, and said, “listen to the sound”. It took him writing the word for me to actually spell ‘Cat’. I remember being told in university I was lazy in writing and spelling, and needed to use my dictionary more. I should listen more and teach myself how to read and write again. I later realised I enjoyed reading from back to front, I found it difficult identifying my left side from right and had to reminded myself by feeling a scar on my left palm before I knew left from right. This was my coping mechanism. Not too long ago someone identified I am creative with visualising things, which I did not notice.
Due to the lack of understanding dyslexia, many children and teenagers still have stories like this. The debate by educationalist and theorist is endless (Read), one side suggest there is nothing like dyslexia while others suggest it exist. Institutions label children of having learning difficulties and not identifying their dyslexia. In educational learning and working with children there are three major different learning styles, visual, kinesthetic and auditory. Why hasn’t this been applied to dyslexia? Identifying that some children are creative and maybe have different way of reading and spelling.
While studying Applied Child Psychology one of the modules was on phonetics and how children learn to spell. One fundamental lesson was based on how some children spell phonetically while others learn by memorizing the words. This should be considered and applied into classes by teachers identifying children that learn phonetically or by memorizing words. Children should not be labeled wrongly for having dyslexia but rather teaching should be creative in the class room to help children reach their full potential. Children with dyslexia can be helped from a young age to become competent readers and writers but first the the right support needs to be provided.
Being a while since my last blog but have been busy with the children being on summer holidays. First job of a mother is being a parent and everything else had to be on hold during the summer break but glad to be back.
I have had this topic for some time and I realised it is quite an important parenting technique when passing across information and action point to children. Repetition, Redirection,and Reaffirmation is needed when interacting with children or trying to pass on information for them to carry out. As we know, children are easily distracted from instructions given to them and this does not exclude my children. On several occasions, both professionally and personally, I have given instructions to children to carry out particular task and it came as no surprise that they were easily distracted due to other interesting things happening around them. An example is asking your child to tidy up a particular space, if for some reason there are other interesting activities going on around him/her, it should come as no surprise that there will be distractions or the child forgetting about the task at hand.
It can be quite frustrating, on the part of the parent, to keep repeating him/herself but due to the nature of children repetition is a skill that is required when dealing with children. Am I saying all children are easily distracted and will need repetition or reminder of the task at hand, no this is not the case. All children are different and while some carry out a task by one given instruction, others will have the same task repeated to them over and over again before the task is carried out.
Having looked at repetition, what has redirection and reaffirmation got to do with children. Sometimes, repeating an instruction for a child, to carry out a task, might not be enough. It may have to involve the adult redirecting the child to the task. This may involve guiding the child physically and taking them back to the task at hand. As with the example of the tidy up if the child left the tidy up space, the adult may have to take the child’s hand and guide him/her back to the task at hand. This saves parent, especially, from shouting, raising their voice or becoming frustrated with repeating themselves.
Reaffirmation with children is telling them what a wonderful work or task they have done. You has a parent are telling them well done for performing the task, finishing it and that you acknowledge their contribution. Reaffirming children’s work can involve a child going to an adult and reminding him/her about a task completed successfully. The adult, at that point in time, needs to show the child that his/her input in the task was recognised and acknowledge this by either letting the child relive that experience through talking about it or praising the child again for his/her contributions. Sometimes reaffirmation can be used to indicate to your child that parents/carers acknowledge their good effort in their academics, sport and other positive activities that they are involved in.
Managing children‘s behaviour can be overwhelming, stressful and sometimes difficult for parents to deal with. As a parent myself, I have to use several techniques and be creative in dealing with my children’s behaviour. Being creative in dealing with children’s beahviour is needed because:
Children grow and develop daily.
Children learn to predict and expect their parents next action.
How each child will react and deal with situations varies.
One technique that has somehow being able to do the magic in managing most children’s behaviour, in my personal and professional life, are options or choices. Providing children with options/choices gives them the impression they are in control and are making the decision.
When providing children with a option/choice:
Ensure the one option is more of a high gamble for the child e.g. ”You either sit down nicely or I switch off the T.V./Game, “You go to the toilet for a wee-wee or I switch off the T.V., “You finish your food or you will not be having desert”.
Maintaining and getting your child’s attention is essential. It is important that there are no distractions so as to give the impression on how serious this decision is for them.
It is important to note that when your child decide to take the option with the higher gamble, make sure you follow up on it. This may be difficult but this shows you mean business, but most importantly, it shows you are helping to develop your child’s behaviour positively. At the same time, you as a parent are using different techniques to deal with confronting situation.