Coaching your child to success
When kids engage in annoying behavior, such as destroying toys by taking them apart or trying to ‘boss’ siblings around, your first reaction might be to discourage the behavior. However, before you tell your child “Don’t do that anymore!” take a moment to consider that the annoying behavior may stem from a key strength possessed by your child. Your child’s strengths are part of her personality, and your goal is not to change who she is. Instead, your task is to help your child explore her key strengths and learn how to use them successfully. By doing so, you are teaching her to love and accept who she is.
Connect to better understand your child’s behavior and core strengths
From the moment our kids are born, we all have dreams of who they will be and what they will accomplish. As your child grows and aspects of her core strengths appear, it can be a little hard to accept that your child does not exactly match who you thought she would be. This may especially be true if her personality and interests do not match yours.
However, once you have ‘let go’ of your idea of who your child should be, you won’t be distracted by it. Instead, you can focus on discovering who your child is and helping her identify core strengths that she needs help refining. Learning to connect with your child is a crucial part of this process, and this is done by listening carefully to what your child shares with you. Avoid being dismissive and allow your child to express her thoughts.
Set boundaries and expectations for your child
Once you have a better understanding of your child’s core strengths, you will have the insight needed to set expectations for your child. Here are a few examples of using boundaries to guide your child away from misbehavior while allowing her to make decisions and explore her core strengths.
- Assertive child who enjoys expressing her thoughts: Teach an assertive child how to use the framework of good leadership and politeness to express her ideas and pursue goals.
- Curious child who enjoys exploring how things work: Set aside a ‘construction zone’ with old toys that are safe for her to take apart and age-appropriate building sets she can use to design and create new objects. Discuss with her your expectation that she will not try to take apart any objects outside the ‘construction zone.’
- Child who enjoys asking ‘why’ questions: Teach your child how to wait for an opportunity to ask a question instead of interrupting a conversation. Set aside time each day to respond to questions you did not have time to respond to right away. Help your child research any questions you cannot answer.
Once expectations are set, use a positive but firm approach to enforce them. When your child disrespects a boundary, discuss the incident with your child. Use a logical consequence, such as cleaning up art supplies from an area where she was not supposed to use them, to help your child learn from her mistake. A consequence that is closely associated with the infraction helps your child learn how to avoid the annoying misbehavior in the future. With consistent coaching, the incidents of annoying behavior should diminish, and they will be replaced by examples of your child using her core strengths to excel.