The boy was caught outside after having started a fire in the yard. His mother questioned him, "How did that get started?" "I don't know," he says. "Well," says Mother, "Somebody must have started it, did you do it?" "What?" says the boy. "You had better tell me the truth or you will be in even more trouble. I'll spank you for this," threatens Mother. "What?" says the boy, "I don't know how it got started." Mother then notices the Bic lighter on the ground. She asks, "Is this what you used to start the fire? You'd better tell me. Your father will really be mad about this!" "I don't know," says the boy, looking around for a way out. Mother senses his movement, then grabs him, and marches him inside, muttering despicable things to her son, and pushes him into his room, after having ignored him all morning. "You are lying to me!" accuses Mother. "Stay in your room." The child then runs out of the room and out the front door." You get back here right now, "she screams, "You're gonna be in more trouble you little brat."
That is a lot of behavioral interaction with this child. Of course, the child should not have been outside using the lighter, should be able to tell the truth, and should not run away. But, it all happened, and there is a reason for it. It goes like this: That child does not feel good about himself because his parents spend the majority of their interactions with him with rage, rants, threats, and anger. The parents are in charge of raising the child, but raising the child to be unhappy? This is a big mistake.
The boy described above is an unhappy child. He got that way because people told him he was that kind of child, an unhappy one. How? By moving close to him, talking with him, touching him when he misbehaved and being less than attentive to him when he behaved. Moving close is when you physically move close to your child. Moving close can be one of three things:
1. Talking or yelling at your child,
2. Touching your child, gently or roughly, and
3. Looking at your child, eyeball to eyeball, lovingly or not.
FIRST: You are completely in charge of this happy or unhappy process. You have to decide what child you want and then act on it. But deciding is the key rather than reacting. When you REACT, it will most likely be the way you learned about parenting by observing your parents. Perhaps you could think about what to do AHEAD of time instead.
SECOND: Every time you interact with your child, you are saying: this is who you are, this is how I will be attentive to you. Time and time again parents will say something to the misbehaving child, but ignore them or other siblings when they are behaving. The misbehaving child gets all the attention:
❱ What do you think you are doing with that lighter?
❱ What kind of a mess did you make in the kitchen?
❱ Why are you not doing your homework?
❱ You came in too late last night!
❱ Why did you hit your sister?
❱ Don't look at me like that!
There is no written rule that you have to respond to your child when he misbehaves. You can easily address misbehavior by saying, rather coyly to your child: I will be glad to let people play on the computer when homework is finished, or when someone's room is clean, or when my children start being nice to one another. Then wait for that behavior to happen. Tell your child you notice him doing as you asked. That is the key.
When you interact with your child, he becomes focused upon himself. You illuminate to him just who he is: You are a good kid or you are a bad kid. So, later on in the day at home or school, he becomes that good or bad kid. Want to help your child? Be attentive to him for good behaviors, ignore the rest, IGNORE the rest. IGNORE. Change how you parent to help your child change who he thinks he is. Parent your child "happily" and he will be happy. Take responsibility for your parenting. It is an art, and art can be beautiful. Let him know you are happy with him and he will be…A Happy Child.