Creative Child

Three Creative Ways to Stop Misbehavior

by Rebecca Eanes

Have you ever been stuck in a parenting rut? One where you’re using the same worn out tricks and punishments to try to get your kids to cooperate or behave and they’re just not working, but you don’t know what else to try? 

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A little creativity can break you free and help you switch things up, and no, I’m not talking about creative new ways to punish your kids as I don’t believe that punishment is particularly helpful in creating lasting and positive change. (See Three Reasons to Stop Punishing Your Kids.) Rather, I’m talking about creative ways to discover and approach the real problem behind that behavior so you can truly reach your child’s heart and find a solution.

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Creative Solution #1 - Problem solve WITH your child. 

The trouble is that we often see poor or unwanted behavior, jump to a conclusion as to why it’s happening, and impose some punishment to make it stop, and when we do that, we may miss some critical information. Behavior is communication, and we need to take the time to stop and listen to our children and what they are trying to tell us through their words as well as their actions. By sitting down with our kids for a heart to heart to discuss the issue and really hear them out, we offer them a great gift - understanding. Of course, this will be difficult to do if your relationship is already guarded, so you may have to work to soften the heart first by spending quality time playing or laughing with him/her. 

The goal is to help your child feel safe enough to open up, and this won’t happen if you’re threatening some sort of punishment. You want to help your child turn the behavior around rather than to just simply pay for wrongdoing. The bonus when you involve your child in finding a solution is that they’re also building their creativity muscles. This is much more beneficial to them long-term than spending time in a corner or having a phone taken away for a few days. 

Some questions that might help the dialogue along are:

  1. What are you feeling right now?
  2. What caused you to do what you did?
  3. What are you feeling right now?
  4. What happened because of your actions?
  5. What did you intend to happen?
  6. How can you fix this?
  7. What can you the next time you feel that way?

Creative Solution #2 - Offer a pen and pad.

If there is a long history of heated verbal exchanges, punishments, or if you have a sensitive child, offering a pen and pad can feel much less threatening than a face-to-face discussion. You may even consider starting a private journal for the two of you to discuss thoughts, feelings, and problems. Some kids who shut down in the face of confrontation will open up when left alone with a pen. 

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