Reality check: It's not him, it's you.
Alright parents, we have to admit that there are times where our kids do things that really frustrate us. Whether it's showing bad behavior by disobeying the rules, talking back, lying or even outright ignoring what they are told to do, sometimes kids act in ways that drive their parents insane.
Let's put this in perspective.
A little rude behavior (potty mouth, stretching the rules etc.) is normal. Some of this behavior can be situational following a divorce or other traumatic experience in the kid's life. Some of it is developmental. Stretching the rules is healthy when it happens within the normal context of a kid's life: talking too much in class, not wanting to go to bed on time etc. The issue is when it becomes a pattern.
It's when your kid refuses to listen or defies your rules regularly — when he or she starts moving into areas that can actually cause them harm like drinking too young, stealing or isolating from you in ways that make it tough to connect intimately with them — that you have a serious problem.
Aside from these bigger areas of concern, some bending of the rules is NORMAL.
But, that doesn't mean it doesn't drive us nuts.
Kids need their parents' love and acceptance. When a child's behavior is causing their parents to react in ways that signal that the parent sees their kid as not likable or fun to be around, the kid naturally pull away. Why? Because he or she knows in their heart that they are likable; they are a good kid and lovable.
When parents push their kids away because of challenging behavior WITHOUT taking the responsible role of helping the kid understand how their behavior is seen, felt and experienced, a problematic cycle of the kid getting negative reinforcement for their behavior is created.
Parents have to stop this cycle before it becomes a pattern.
How can you do this?
According to YourTango parenting expert Tara Kennedy-Kline, try to figure out what is behind your child's actions? Is it a cry for help? Is it a signal of boredom or lack of attention from you? Parents hold the singularly important responsibility of helping their kids understand why they act the way they do.
Think about it, your brain is significantly more evolved than your child's. It's your job to help him get to the bottom of his feelings. After all, behaviors are reactions to our emotional state. We use our words and bodies to manage and express what we're feeling on the inside.
When it comes to parenting, you have to be honest with your kids — and with yourself. Sometimes that means admitting to yourself when your children are being rude and challenging. Part of owning the job of raising your little ones is to help them mature into people who understand how the world interprets their actions.
Yelling at them without explanation will never teach them why their bad behavior is working against them. In fact, it'll only make things worse.
Even though it may be hard, it's your job as a parent to help your kids understand that their behavior has to change.
Tara broadcast's her parenting advice weekly on her radio show "Parent Nation". Shows air live on Tuesdays at 11 am eastern and Tara often takes live questions to help parents in immediate need. Remember, parenting is a never-ending journey and sometimes your kids will drive you mad, but your not alone. Listen to Tara's show and join the community of parents embracing modern parenting with humor, enthusiasm and honesty.