Single parents are not only responsible for working, maintaining a household and spending time with their children but they are also the only parent to discipline their children. Most single parent households are run by mothers and coupled with a lack of financial support from a second parent, often results in single mothers working more which in turn can affect the children as they receive less guidance and attention.
As a child grows, their personalities are developing and changing. It is not only important to understand the changes that your child is going through during the developmental years, but it is imperative for you to start deciding what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
Most child behavior issues occur during time of transition and adjustment. Remember that childhood is a continual process of transition and adjusting to rapid development. Bearing this in mind, it is easy to see how bad behavior is a natural reaction to challenges your child face without having the necessary skills to accomplish these challenges.
There is a fine line single parents have to tread to prevent child behavior issues from getting out of hand. Make sure you have created a structured, secure environment for your children. Not having rules can lead your child feeling anxious as he or she does not know what is precisely expected of them. Having no rules in place will also cause child behavior issues later on as your child becomes a teenager. If you have too many rules your child has to follow, this will create too much structure and can also result in child behavior issues as he or she gets older.
There are three main factors in dealing with child behavior issues:
- How Best to Talk and Listen
- How to Praise Effectively
Consistency in Addressing Child Behavior Issues
Consistency in your actions, reactions and speech is the key to effective parenthood. Children need to know what the boundaries are and what is expected of them. Rewarding and punishing the same behavior at different times is very confusing for a child. Let your children be involved in making a household rule chart. Make a short list of rules and be sure to make them understand that breaking one of these rules will result in a punishment. It is essential that you understand your child’s developmental level when you decide on the consequences for misbehavior. For example, if your 4 year old has a tantrum at the dinner table, it is okay to remove him from the table for a few minutes. Having a rational in – depth discussion with him about his behavior is not age appropriate and will not be effective.
How Best to Talk and Listen to Your Child
Firstly, get onto your child’s level and engage in eye contact to get their attention. Children have a very short attention span and parents have a tendency to talk too much and to lecture. Put these two facts together and you can often appreciate why children do not listen.
Keep instructions short and sweet. By using eye contact you know that you have the child’s attention at that moment. For example “Steven, I need you to put your toys away now.” Ask your child to repeat to you the instruction: “Tell me what I said?” After the child has repeated it just carry on what you were doing and let the child do what you ask them to do.
When addressing child behavior issues, it is important that you keep calm and clear. Even though you are angry, there is no need to threaten or yell. Rather speak calmly, concisely and with clarity. Think about the way you generally speak to your child. You do not want all communication with your child to be focused and serious. You can help cultivate a positive single parent child relationship by keeping most of your communication light and fun.
How to Praise Your Child Effectively
Praise is very important – it is acknowledging an achievement your child has done. Praising your child is all about making positive statements. In order for it to be effective, you have to specify exactly what you are happy with. You have to make it very clear to the child through the smile on your face, the words you choose and the tone of your voice that you are happy with what they have done. Praising your child not only gives them a feeling of accomplishment and a feeling of pride, but also promotes a child’s self esteem. By praising your child, you are in effect letting your child know exactly what behaviour it is you approve of, which gives them the motivation to behave that way again.
In conclusion, addressing child behavior issues early on helps children make the connection between an action and its consequence when the reinforcement or punishment is immediate and logically related to the action. You as a parent, can help make that connection by talking to your child about what he or she has done and why it has lead to a certain consequence. Children need to be given a strong, healthy self-image. From this solid foundation, everything else in life becomes easier and straight forward for them. Every time you show respect for your child through listening effectively, giving them choices, or granting an opportunity to solve a problem for themselves, you are watering and nurturing their self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.