Children’s needs and behaviours change as they get older and they start to form their own views on the world. Increasing independence may make them appear to push boundaries but this is all a necessary part of growing up. Your child’s behaviour can be affected by life changes such as moving house, a new sibling or starting nursery or school, or family difficulties. Sometimes they just want to get your attention.
All children need love and guidance alongside rules and boundaries to feel secure.
- Introduce boundaries from an early age and keep guidance simple and consistent.
- Clearly explain what you want your child to do and praise good behaviour. This can be reinforced through smiling, eye contact, hugs or rewards after they have done what you have asked of them. Giving detailed praise helps them to understand what you expect from the for example “well done for putting your toys back in the play box when I asked you.”
- Show your child you understand how they feel, “You’re sad you can’t have the biscuit.”
- Stay calm and try and avoid to avoid overreacting or setting ultimatums or threats.
Be prepared as you can. If you know your child gets cranky when they are tired, overexcited, frustrated, hungry or bored try to find ways to avoid those situations. Make sure they get to bed on time or carry a couple of toys to keep them busy on long journeys.
Keep talking and listening to your child. This could be through an activity such as cooking, doing a puzzle of going for a walk. When your child is frustrated, encourage them to use their words to express how they are feeling.
You might find yourself so stressed that you want to smack your child. It might stop your child at that moment but it has a lasting damaging effect on your child and your relationship. Your child will also learn by example and think hitting someone is acceptable.
Being a parent is a challenge and it can be stressful balancing all the demands you face. Accepting support from family, friends, your local Health Visiting Team or maybe an online forum is a positive step to take and not a sign of weakness. If you are struggling, feeling stressed or anxious a lot of the time, don’t feel you have to cope alone.
- Visit Family Lives for parenting advice and support, or phone their free parents' helpline on 0808 800 2222.
- Read the NSPCC's guide to positive parenting
- Sign up for a free ‘Understanding your child’ course available for anyone caring for a child from birth to eighteen-years-old in Kent. Use the access code Invicta to register.