Reiterating positive words on a daily basis, like "respectful and kind". I don't like to be a Debbie Downer. I correct my children when needed, but remember to praise them as well. When a dispute arises I remind them the importance of being respectful and kind to one another.
Remind them to have self-control--Coming to me to mediate, when they are fighting, rather than taking their anger out physically on each other. More importantly, then encouraging them to talk out their problem amongst each other and come to a solution so they can move forward.
Offer a Reward system for behavior. We as adults like to be rewarded when we do a good job, through bonuses and recognition. Kids are no different! I give them Reward Bucks (which is just Monopoly money) every Friday (basically equals one per day). When an issue arises that warrants a consequence, they loose Reward Bucks. Their goal is to save them to trade in for rewards that they have chosen. Some rewards include: Skip a chore (10 bucks), Extra time on video games (15 bucks), a one month membership for their favorite online games (25 bucks), a visit to Chuck E. Cheese (50 bucks). Trust me, some days they are loosing way more then earning! But, there is something about having to hand over that Reward Buck that is pain-staking for them. Actually, they each just lost two reward bucks for fighting, as I am typing this! *Sigh*
Be consistent and persistent! If I am flaky, then my children will follow in those same habits. When I set a rule, routine, or guideline, I try to stick to it. The saying, "Because I said so" doesn't seem to be effective. Kids seem to follow instruction better when they understand the reason behind it. Yes, this takes work on my part, but the effort will make a difference over time. I repeat...over time. In other words, mean what you say, and say what you mean.
Teach the value of family. I am always telling my children how important it is to be there for each other. I reiterate that not only are they siblings, yet best friends. I want them to be protective of each other, realizing that it is not okay to inflict harm onto each other.
Show them their importance to the family. Kids gets a feeling of belonging when you allow them to help out. I give them responsibility through daily chores--unloading the dishwasher, putting their own laundry away, empty trash cans, feed the dog. They know that in order for this family to function, we all have to pull our weight. I don't feel all the weight should be carried on my shoulders alone, as that creates for a tired, stressed, and unhappy mom. I also see different interests growing in my children. For example, my son loves to cook, so even though it takes a bit longer to whip out my dinner, I allow him to help prepare it. This gives him a sense of ownership to the family, plus prepares him in some very important life skills.
Listen. The saying, "kids should be seen and not heard" should be thrown out the window. It is so easy for kids to go unheard. They have really good ideas, as they tend to think outside of the box. I take time to listen to what our children have to say, and include them on discussions, where they can give input toward family goals. Our children typically know what's going on within our family dynamic, giving them a sense of security and direction. I view my children as a mission field, not a side hobby.
Teach household expectations. I am guilty of assuming that my child knows how to do everyday tasks like I do. I recommend first showing your child what it is you expect them to do. Don't assume they know how to make the bed properly, empty the dishwasher correctly, or fold laundry the right way. I show them the task once, then next time have them do it once with me watching them, then allow them to take over on their own. Will the laundry always end up put away correctly or the spoons put in the right slot? No. They are learning, and thus too will take time. Don't expect perfection, they are just kids after all. The goal, for now, is just getting them to do it at all.
Have balance. I realized that being a parent is more important then being their friend. I am firm when needed, yet loving and comforting as well. There needs to be a blend of the two. If too firm, close relationships can be hard to grow. If too much like a friend, the needed discipline can tend to vanish. It's all about balance.
Make consequences clear. It is important in our house to know what the rules are and what the consequence is if that rule is disobeyed. It allows for easy correction, when my kids make a bad choice, knowing clearly what the expectation was.We punish them where it "hurts" the most--video games, computer time, TV, playtime with friends, reward bucks, and banishment from the all mighty Legos. They know that mom and dad are the boss, and we have the finally word. Period.
Praying for my kids. I can't stress enough how important church involvement is in our family. We try to instill Christ-like character, morals, and values into our children. I do a short devotional with them each day, allowing them to see biblical stories of how Jesus reacted to worldly issues. Each and every day, I pray for God to work in their lives...and to give me extra doses of patience :)
Look ahead. How do you want to see your child as an adult? My prayer is that my children grown up spiritually sound, financially responsible, and have a solid relationship with their spouse. I hope they are hard working, honest, kind men. In order to reach these goals, it is my job to equip them with the right tools, while they are still young.
"The thoughts, beliefs, and characters we feed our children today, become the foundation of their behaviors tomorrow."
Do you have any tips that have worked well, in the journey to eliminate bad behavior? Leave a comment below!