Behavioral therapist James Lehman created a step-by-step program to help parents handle difficult behavior from children. With a problem-solving approach, Lehman provides tools for parents that can help stop negative, ingrained habits. New thinking patterns and parental responses learned from the program can lead to better behavior and positive parenting strategies.
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Understanding Ineffective Parenting
The Total Transformation Program educates parents about ineffective parenting techniques that often lead to undesired behavior in children. Parents who engage in over-negotiating with children often create a situation where children don’t understand or accept limits, warns Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Megan Devine, writing for Empowering Parents. Parents might also become so frustrated that they scream or yell during discipline. Sometimes a parent falls into a “friend” mode with a child and focuses on empathizing with a youngster instead of parenting effectively. Parents could also go to extreme lengths to give too much to a child, which creates a sense of entitlement. Perfectionist parents demand unrealistic achievements from children, which usually creates anxiety and frustration for them. The overprotective parent seeks to protect a child from frustration and failure, which could cause a child to feel incapable.
Once a parent understands her ineffective parenting techniques, the Total Transformation Program provides tools for making changes. Some tools include making direct statements to a child, disconnecting from negative engagement, and instituting clear and consistent consequences for misbehavior. Additional tools include honest engagement with children, exemplifying positive values, redirecting kids away from misbehavior, using scripts and choosing your confrontations with your kids. You can also use tools such as humor, transition times, treating your child how you want her to behave and positive role-modeling.
Identifying and Managing Triggers
Children often have a specific situation that leads to misbehavior. Lehman calls these situations “triggers.” By examining your child’s triggers, you put yourself in a position of helping your child avoid the undesired behavior. Watch your child’s behavior for several days to notice behavioral patterns that lead to misbehavior. For example, you might notice that, every time it’s time for math homework, your child becomes unruly and obstinate. Upon closer scrutiny, you might discover she’s struggling with math and feels overwhelmed by the subject. Once you identify a trigger, talk to your child about it. By offering support for the underlying problem and helping your youngster realize she’s acting out because she’s frustrated and anxious, you might succeed in helping her avoid misbehaving. Lehman recommends “cueing” to interrupt trigger episodes. Choose a signal that can pass between you and your youngster to help her realize she needs to correct her behavior because she’s responding to a trigger.
Lehman coaches parents to devise a plan for alternative responses when children misbehave. Utilize structure in your home to reinforce your expectations. Explain your plan to change interaction between you and your child so he understands that conversations will be different. Instead of shouting or arguing with your youngster, stay calm and work to avoid anger or frustration. Disengage if an argument becomes heated and walk away from your child. With consistency, your child should eventually come around to mirror your example of calm interaction.