Parenting - The Challenge Of Dealing With Difficult Children
Parenting is not always easy at the best of times but when it comes to dealing with a difficult child the challenges can often seem overwhelming. Whatever the reason for a child's bad behavior, the solution is rarely simple and will involves a great deal of time and hard work.
When it comes to talking about how to deal with difficult children the first problem is defining just what we mean by difficult. Are we talking about a child who is simply a little too keen to express his independence or a child who is totally irresponsible, indifferent to the effect his behavior has on others and is perhaps even violent?
The signs of a difficult child are often all too clear to parents and might manifest themselves as a refusal to accept limits or do what he is told, a very short temper or perhaps even physical violence towards his brothers and sisters or even towards you.
The second problem for parents is to assess just what the cause of this bad behavior could be. Is the child for example suffering from a genetic, hormonal or other condition such as Asperger's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or autism? Is the cause perhaps related to the child's environment, possibly being caused by something as simple as a food allergy? Has the child simply decided for reasons of his own to behave badly?
Getting to the root of the problem quickly is important, but not always easy. If there is no obvious reason for the child to behave as he does then the first port of call should be your doctor, who can arrange for a number of tests to be conducted to see if there is a medical basis for the problem. Getting a diagnosis from your doctor can provide you with a good starting point but it should be just that. There are an awfully large number of theories today when it comes to child development and considerable disagreement among professional child care specialists. So, it is a good idea if you're at all unsure or skeptical to seek a second, or even a third, opinion.
If there is a medical reason for your child's poor behavior then clearly you need to follow the advice of your doctor on the best course of action. However, if there is no discernable reason for your child's bad behavior then what do you do next?
The first thing to realize is that you are almost certain to feel both angry and frustrated at your child's behavior and that these feelings can very easily and quickly make an already difficult situation worse. Your best friend, and one that you need to keep very close at hand if you are rectify the situation, is patience.
The next thing that you have to realize is that solving the problem is going to be a process of trial and error and that this may take time and will inevitably meet with both success and failure. Indeed, it is likely to be a slow uphill climb taking two steps backwards for every three steps you take forward.
It may also mean that you need to change the environment at home and that several or all of the family members may have to be prepared to make sacrifices to help the one difficult child. You may for example need to say no to having pets in the house and brothers and sisters may have to share rooms to protect them from becoming victims of the child's bad behavior.
Thereafter it's simply a case of trying various different approaches to teach the child the right way to behave and to show him that his own behavior is wrong and that it adversely affects the lives of others around him.
Here setting boundaries and teaching by example will be extremely important, as will punishing bad behavior. Punishment however is often a problem when it comes to a difficult child and it is all too easy to resort to physical punishment. For a young child a slap on the hand might be all that is needed but be very careful about resorting to anything more than this.
Without entering into a discussion on the rights and wrongs of physical punishment here, which is a subject that warrants more than an article of its own, suffice it to say that physical punishment rarely works in the case of a difficult child and invariably makes matters worse.
Dealing with a difficult child is no easy matter. However, as long as you are patient with the child and are prepared to accept that progress may be slow, and at times painfully gradual, then perseverance will normally do the trick.
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