July 18, 2010

To Get Angry or Not To Get Angry (Part Two)

Let's look at additional instances when anger will not be sufficient to improve a child's behavior. If a child is having difficulty making a change, despite motivation to do so, a parent may feel helpless to make an impact. This frustration can lead to anger. The child may respond to this anger by becoming increasingly self-critical in a way that lowers self-worth. The focus should remain the behavior, not the child's sense of being a valued person.

There can be multiple reasons why a child may have difficulty changing behavior. Anxiety, for example, can lead a child to engage in habits or have reactions that seem irrational. Children who have certain learning disabilities may lack specific skills and behave inappropriately in social situations. Others with attention deficit issues may have good intentions but lack the impulse control to avoid behaviors that are problematic.

In these cases, and others like them, a parent's anger will be unlikely to improve the situation. In fact, children may eventually lose motivation to work on the behavior if they feel that, despite their efforts, the parent continues to be angry. Understanding a child's difficulties, in these situations, enables the parent to feel more empathy and patience.

If a child cannot meet our expectations, it's important to re-examine the expectations. Sometimes, they be can recast as goals to work toward rather than expected, immediate outcomes. Working with your child to help him/her meet these goals can both increase motivation and enhance the parent-child relationship.

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