expect-worst-colorWatch Your Attitude

Self-fulfilling prophecies: Expect the worst

of your kids and the worst is what you`ll likely get

I heard it again just the other day: a parent bemoaning the inevitable behavior of a child going through a `phase.` She complained that she couldn`t get her son to drink the amount of milk recommended by his doctor. And then, she said it: `Teenagers ` they never listen!`

How many times have you heard (or said) something similar` Although we all know not to `label` children (the smart` one, the pretty one, the difficult one), we very easily fall into another trap ` harboring (and even expressing) low expectations:

`She`s about to hit the `terrible twos.```

`Boys will be boys.`

`Kids these days``

These statements all excuse unfavorable behavior with` generalizations and predictions. And they become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think all two-year olds go through a `terrible` phase, yours will. If you believe siblings can`t get along, yours won`t. If you`re sure that all teens hate their parents, yours will.

It is not inevitable that children whine and throw tantrums throughout their young years. And they don`t have to grow up to be sullen, rude teens either. It`s all about expectations, truly. You can raise children without` tolerating behaviors you find unacceptable. The tricks is to start very early and be absolutely consistent about how you deal with those behaviors.

  • Never (never!) reward undersirable behavior, especially whining. In the moment, giving in to a demanding, whining child or ignoring an inappropriate remark may be easier than doing the right thing. But consider the future, not just the moment.
  • Always be sure a consequence (not punishment) follows unacceptable behavior
  • Be very clear about expecations. That means be specific. Telling children that you expect them to `behave` doesn`t really tell them anything. You must tell them how you expect them to behave.
  • Model everything you expect from your child. For example, if you speak disrespectfully to your spouse or parents (even just once in a while), you can be sure that your child will speak disrespectfully to you.

Children won`t continue a behavior that doesn`t `work` for them. And children really do want to know what the boundaries are.

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