The run up to school holidays is always a difficult time when it comes to enforcing boundaries. As children reach the end of a school year or term, the pressure often decreases slightly in terms of expectations as everyone ( including teachers) begins to relax and the count down begins to the freedom that the holiday will bring!
We are seeing the knock on effect at home with lots of clients getting in touch to say that they are struggling with their children’s behaviour or that their children rather than them seem to be in complete control! We try to work with each family to give them strategies that are specific to their homes and lives but here are Kids on Track’s top tips to getting some control back into your homes.
1) HOUSE RULES : Design a set of clear expectations which applies to all members of the family alike. These rules should have clear consequences ( positive or negative) which are enforced consistently. The rules need to be able to be adhered to by all family members (including the parents) otherwise individual children may feel blamed and their behavior will therefore escalate.
2) SET EXPECTATIONS AT TIMES OF DAY: It can be helpful to have set expectations of “chores” or “activities” that your child needs to complete at a particular time. This could be as simple as brushing their teeth and making their bed in the morning. By putting these into a structured format such as a chart or checklist, your child can be their own monitor and your role is simply to praise and reward for good. All children need clear structure and this can ensure that even if other set routines have been relaxed there is always something to ground them.
3) ONLY ASK ONCE: If we look at the amount of demands put on us in any given day, they are immense. If each of these demands were to made several times, we would soon become overwhelmed and choose to either ignore the request or disengage completely from the instruction. Many of the families we see will admit that when asking a question, they can end up asking several times. It can be useful to have a clear warning system in place where you are only asking once. There are 4 steps that we recommend. Firstly, give a clear instruction eg: please put on your shoes; second – give your child time to process what you have said and complete the task ( up to 2 minutes depending on age and task). Remember that if you ask again, they will start processing again! Third, if they haven’t done what was asked, let them know ( without asking again) that it is up to them whether to comply but that if they don’t within a set time, there will be a consequence (and name what it will be)! We all need to feel that we have choices and are in control and this will allow your children to feel that way. Finally, you follow through on the consequence if your child has not done as asked. If they have done as asked, you praise their listening and cooperation!
These 3 simple steps if put in place effectively can make a HUGE difference to the dynamics in your home. The smallest changes make the biggest differences.
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