If you are a parent, who tells your child at drop off:  “Be good! Behave! Do your best today! Have the best day ever!! “You may have all the best intentions, however, unbeknownst to you, you may be setting them up for not such a good day.  Why is that?  Our behaviors are not based on cause and effect, as are other things in nature.  We are motivated by purposefulness.  For example; If I don’t want to be told what to do, and you tell me to be good, I may choose to do the opposite.  Even if I would like to have a good day, help out and cooperate, I cannot let you win by doing what you tell me to do.  Now I’m in a bind!  If the child is in a fight at home, they are going to misbehave wherever  the parent is most vested in the child doing well. If you want to help your child have a good day, you may want to keep reading and consider trying something different.  

The key to anything, is having a good relationship.  Taking the focus off of oneself, shifting it onto those you care about and then the greater community, is a first good step.  There can be many reasons we want to have our children behave and do well.  Some of those have to do with how we are viewed by others or how we view ourselves as parents.  Those have to be addressed  separately.  They have more to do with our own “stuff” and that’s another blog .  

The other concern is that our children do well because it benefits them in the long run and get’s them ahead in the world.  However a discouraged child, one who is oppositional and in a fight, only cares about getting ahead by being “bad”.  They often believe that if they can’t be the best at being “good”, they can at least be the best at being “bad”.  In fact perfectionism is often the big culprit. 

If we remind our child to behave, we are also sending the message that we do not trust them and that we believe there is a good chance, they will misbehave.  That in itself can be very DIScouraging.  What then do we do to enCOURAGE them to do well?  One approach for change, is to shift their focus onto their community.  Saying things such as; "I bet your teacher will be glad to have you there today, so you can help her out!"  "How do you think you’d like to help out a friend today?"  "What is one thing you could do today to help out your team?"  "How do you think working this out with (you choose the person and any problem they’re having) helps out the whole group (such as their class or family)?".  

When you are helping someone, it is also a form of power, because your influencing your environment, but this time in a positive way (the force is with you).  It is much more rewarding to look at something you’ve built than to look at something you’ve destroyed, even though both make you feel powerful.  By focusing your child’s and your own attention on how they can be of use to their community and make a difference, you will change their intentions and purpose which ends up benefiting them as well.  It takes courage and trust to do this.  

The proof is in the pudding!  You can try out the different approaches and find out which works better for you.  

First, try to mange their behavior and control their misbehavior.  Tell them they better behave and not get in trouble.  Question them when you see them again! Did they behave?  Scold, lecture and punish them when you feel they’ve done wrong.  Reward them when they do as you asked them to do.  Then, when you’re ready for something different, try doing the opposite.  Don’t ask them to do anything other then help out.  Ask with sincerity and do not demand.  Acknowledge that you recognize their contributions and point out how those contributions make a difference in someone else’s life and in your life.  Be sincere!  Do not reward, punish, bribe, or coerce, in fact don’t use any control techniques.  Have fun together, get to know one another and connect.  Depending on how much of a fight you and your kids are in and how badly they want to defeat you, this may take two or three weeks.  They won’t trust the change and they’ll most likely want to test you, just to see if you really mean it.  Be strong, stick to it, be consistent and don’t let yourself get discouraged, even when they are misbehaving!   

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
- Albert Einstein


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