What do you get when you add School holidays + Jetstar + Gold Coast
What words come to mind? Chaos, Excitement, Dread, Mayhem, Noise ……
There I was on a Jetstar flight to Coolangatta last week ready to escape into my new novel, when the kids in the row behind me started fighting noisily. The poor mother, clearly embarrassed by her children’s behaviour, tried bribery, punishment and threats … all to no avail.
I felt so sorry for her as considering the way her kids were acting she must have felt exhausted and overwhelmed in our jam packed plane. However the more I was witness to the supposed ‘misbehaviour’ of the kids, it felt to me that they were really crying for connection, attention, love and acknowledgement from mum.
How to do this though when the kids are really acting out?
How can connection and acknowledgement have a better outcome than punishment when consequences and control are obviously needed? But are they……. ?
The thing is that punishment, consequences and idle threats just don’t work as they really don’t change a child’s behaviour. And if they do it is temporary and purely out of fear of punishment … but they don’t actually learn anything positive … just that you are bigger and stronger and they don’t have any choice. The take away from punishment is feeling misunderstood, unloved and probably more angry and remorseful at the little brother than was the case before. They certainly don’t sit in their bedroom thinking how sorry they are … but rather how unfair it is … and bit by bit a hard wall of disconnect gets erected between him and you.
We all want our kids to become happy, resilient, self- regulating human beings, where they can cope with the inevitable ups and downs of life without losing it every time they are triggered.
Punishment doesn’t teach these skills, quite the opposite!
So rather than threaten, shout, punish or bribe … try to have empathy for your child. If he is acting out he is going through a difficult time and like all human beings being yelled at and criticised doesn’t actually make you feel better. For every negative comment a child receives it is said that there needs to be 5 positive comments to rebalance so that the child’s self esteem stays intact.
If it feels all too hard please get some help as there is another way where you can coach your kids to have the self worth, resilience and inner contentment that you really want for them. And as always … it all starts with you, the parent.