Childrens behavior, who is to blame?

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There are several contributing factors to the way that a child behaves, and most of them have to do with the child’s environment and the way that the adults in relationships with the child react to their behavior. An adult can always do something to try to improve the behavior of the child, the adult first needs to find a parenting style that they can abide by and that works for the child, then assess the situation from there. As the parent of a child with psychological and emotional health concerns, I know this first hand. My son behaves rather well at home, but other places he has been know to refuse to bathe, refuse to take his medications, try to set fires, take a razor knife and ruin walls, write on peoples vehicles with markers, “help” paint the brand new lawn tractor, and try to hurt people as well. Children learn at a very early age what they can and can’t get away with when different people are around, and whether or not they have any psychiatric medical conditions they will take advantage of what they can where they can. This is how children learn to make their way through the world as they grow.
A child may behave very well when at home, but then behave very poorly when they go to a relatives house who has no children or who has not yet found a parenting technique that works for them. The two most important ideas when it comes to trying to get a child to behave are to be consistent and make sure the child knows what to expect, and to have a balance between punishment and reward. My son behaves very poorly when he goes to visit a particular aunt and uncle of mine, but doesn’t even try to behave that way when he is at home. After a bit of analysis and seeing what goes on in the situation when he is there, I have determined that there are several problems in the situation, but there are three that are some of the most important. First of all, my aunt has not found her parenting style yet. Secondly, there is no consistency. Lastly, anytime my uncle may try to punish the child, my aunt will buy him something because she thinks the punishment was overdone. This may be true, but the child here has just turned nine, at this age, a simple explanation that he did deserve to get in trouble, but that it was overdone and an apology is sufficient.
When this same child is at home, there is a complete difference. He uses his manners for the most part, maybe not all the time, but nobody is perfect. He bathes himself every night, he takes his medications
every evening and every morning without issue and if I forget he will remind me most of the time, he has never tried to light a single thing on fire, he doesn’t touch knives, he only writes on paper, he hasn’t touched any paint except to do watercolors on paper and what not. He did try to hit me once, but that was very quickly remedied since it was not that long ago that he did it and I am currently pregnant. I gave him a light pat on the rear to get his attention, nothing painful, nothing harder than I would if I had tapped his shoulder to get his attention when he was not in trouble. Then, I explained to him that he had lost his privileges to play video games/TV, see his friends, ride his bike, and play outside for a while. He asked me how long a while was and I told him two days for the playing outside, three days for seeing his friends, four days for his bicycle, and a week for the video games/TV. I always take the video games for the longest period of time because I like to promote exercise and a bit of self entertainment so that he learns these things young. This is one of the harshest punishments that I have ever given my son, but the offense in this case was fitting. For the most part, there is a completely different strategy that I use. If he goes to visit his friends and doesn’t come back on time, he looses his visiting privileges for a day. If it is a second offense, which I consider a second offense as something occurring within the week after he has already received the same punishment for the same offense, then he gets three days. A third offense will earn him a week, and if there are any offenses after that, there is an added week for each offense. The longest my son has ever had to go was three days. If he has gone farther than his limits, he is then restricted from his bicycle and this works on the same basic scale as the restricted visiting. If he argues about video games, the same idea here as well. If he goes outside when he is told not to at that time, then he gets his going outside privileges removed on again the same scale. If he has poor grades, he gets outside privileges removed and video games/TV, but this is on a bit of a different scale. Outside is for a week, and video games/TV is until I speak to his teacher and find out that everything is improving.
I find that if I stick to the same scale, it gives him less to forget and so he knows exactly what to expect and when. The more a child knows about what to expect from their punishment, the less likely they are to misbehave because if it is on a scale they know and is fair then they also know there is less of a chance of getting out of it if they fuss, and fussing will only get time added in our home. Every parent needs to sit down and think out a set of punishments that fit different offenses that their particular child is prone to committing and then set a scale to go with those. If necessary, when you are finished post it to the refrigerator with a magnet so that you can go check and see what should be done. If your child has done something new, then think of a punishment that fits and put it on the same scale as you have everything else, then add it to your list on the refrigerator. This will also help because any caregivers that come to your home will be able to know, and you can also photo copy it for when they are with a relative so that there is consistency everywhere. If you have different children that are different ages, you may have to make different scales, or different consequences completely, but the same basic idea applies to all children of all ages. Even toddlers can have punishments, theirs just come more in the form of a minute or few minute time out (depending on their age), or if it is a older infant or young toddler, maybe a spat on the hand to show them that something is dangerous to them.
I refuse to punish my son at home for the behavior problems that he has when he is with the aunt and uncle that I previously mentioned. I believe that the behavior should be corrected at the time that it is done or noticed, not later by a different individual. I also believe that since he already has little respect for them, me stepping over them is just going to heighten that problem. My son has behaved rather well at our house all year, so when Christmas came around, he got an electric guitar and I have looked on-line to find information on playing so as to teach him. I will not get him lessons due to the way children change their minds so often, I am not going to be out that kind of money. Especially when there are so many free resources on the web. The only catch is that while I am teaching him, I will end up learning to play myself (there are definitely worse things that I could be learning). At my aunt and uncles house, he got an X-Box 360 no matter what his behavior had been. This would be an example of the balance between reward and punishment verses an imbalance. No matter how much
they buy him, he still misbehaves because he knows he can.
Another place that many parents get confused is with psychiatric evaluations and/or medications. Some parents believe that thier children are fine when no matter how consistent they are, no matter how much the parent honestly tries and works at it, the child still misbehaves constantly. In this case, whether the parent wants to admit it or not, there may be a psychiatric or emotional problem, and the child definitely needs to be evaluated. Another problem that falls in here is parents that believe that if they get their child evaluated, then the child will be put on a whole array of medications and will become a walking zombie. This is not true, a parent always has say in the medical treatment of their child, the only way that this is not the case is if the psychiatrist determines that the child is a danger to themselves or others and they will then admit the child into a children’s institution for observation and they will consult with the parent before putting the child on any medications so that if it is possible to work out the issues without medication it can be done. There is also another type of parent that falls into this area, this is the kind of person that my aunt is. The parent that believes that medication can fix everything, they think that there is nothing wrong with their parenting skills, everything is the child’s fault (or the fault of their medical/psychiatric problems) and that it can all be fixed if the child is just put on more medication or stronger medication. This is not the case, in every adult-child relationship there needs to be a basis of good discipline and trust that if action A happens then consequence A happens and if action B happens then consequence B happens. Once the adult has established this relationship with the child then from there if there are still problems the adults involved should work with a medical professional to try to assess the situation and work out something that will make the situation better for everyone.
These are only part of the reasons that I believe that a childs behavior is mostly the fault of the adult, not the child. There is always an avenue that the adult in the situation can take to remedy the situation and try to improve the behavior of the child. I believe also that most of the people who believe that the behavior of the child is the fault of the child are the people who refuse to take certain avenues and try something new because they are unsure of it, and this again makes it the fault of the adult who is unwilling to try something new rather than the child. Children are always going to take advantage of any situation that they think they can, adults do the same thing, just on a more grown-up scale. We teach the children to do it by example, just because they are smart enough to apply it to the way their life works instead of using it in the same types of situations that we do doesn’t make it their fault that they are doing it. As adults, we need to learn how to handle this, be glad that they are learning the necessities of making it through life as an adult, and become more manipulating by figuring out what works to make the child behave the way we want them to.


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