Are you worried about your child’s behaviors in public, are you tired of hearing negative comments about your child’s behaviors from family, friends, and teachers, does your stomach sink and you feel totally embarrassed when your child starts to act out in public?
It seems rather crazy that restaurants, airlines, and public spaces would restrict children; isn’t that how children practice learning social expectations and rules? As an art therapist in private practice I see many families whose children have gotten out of control with their meltdowns and tantrums. These children act out in public spaces leaving parents feeling helpless, worried, and often walking on eggshells fearful of the next time their child will have an emotional outburst.
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Here’s the thing, there may be something going on with your child that warrants additional support. Your child may have anxiety, explosive anger or mood disorder; or it may be something much more simple than that. It may be that your child has not learned ways to manage their behaviors and emotions.
Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their out of control behaviors.
1. You are the parent and your child is looking for you to set the rules and boundaries of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. As a parent it’s your job to provide feedback to help your child become aware of their behaviors, and to offer your child support to help them connect and modify behaviors. Children learn from your actions and behaviors, so get crystal clear on what’s okay behavior and what is not.
2. Acknowledge their feelings. Often children are acting out because they are upset, bored, annoyed, nervous, mad, sad, excited, hungry, tired (among other feelings, needs, and wants). By identifying your child’s feelings and behaviors your child will become more aware of their own feeling, behaviors, and wants. For example a child who is clinging to you and interrupting you as you speak you can acknowledge their behaviors and feelings, “ I can tell you want my attention now, and what you have to say is very important, when I am done speaking then I can listen to what you have to say”.
3. Let your child know when they are acting inappropriately. When you notice the negative behaviors it’s time step in and let your child know what is expected. Be clear, direct, and assertive without becoming angry and aggressive. For example, “The sofa is not for jumping, please stop”.
4. Allow your child to self-correct. If it is not a safety issue give your child an opportunity to hear what you have requested. You may need to step closer, look into their eyes, put a hand on their shoulder, or meet them at eye level and state what it is that you want them to do, then give them a few seconds to process what is being requested.
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