by Sally Matheny
Dealing with a Child's Misbehavior
What do you do when your children keep repeating the same misbehavior? Whether it’s disrespect, dishonesty, or a despicable attitude, you’d think they’d get tired of listening to the same lecture about the error of their ways. Or the penalties, which increase in severity with each infraction, would finally produce the desired behavior.
Alas, any improvement seems temporary. So, how do we deal with a child’s repeated misbehavior?
Whether the child is six or sixteen, too often, parents hear, “But I didn’t understand” or “I didn’t hear you” or something similar.
Half the time we don’t believe that, but to close any loopholes, consider following through with a few of these steps.
There are numerous resources available for parents on the basics of setting age-appropriate rules, discipline, rewards, and consequences. My favorite websites are Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting, and Lifeway. However, the link I provided is from TheSpruce.com. I liked the easy-to-understand article there.
I’ll only mention a few key points beyond what’s in that article, because I’m thinking if you clicked on this title, you’re already implementing those and need something more.
Maintain eye contact when talking with your child. Make sure you have their undivided attention when discussing behavior expectations.
Explain in an age-appropriate manner why it’s important to have the desired behavior. Preferably this is not simply stating, “because I said so!”
Ask the child to repeat back to you what you’ve said.
Stay calm. Berating or ridiculing children is not the best answer. Be gracious. Remember all the times in the Bible when Jesus compassionately restored those who sinned?
Offer do-overs. Start the day with new mercies and a clean slate. It’s possible for children to experience grace as well as the consequences for sin. We all know that.
Sincerely listen to your child’s input on the matter. It’s only by listening and following up with questions that we can begin to understand the root of the problem.