3 Parenting Tips for the “Difficult” Child

This is a tough topic for parents to talk about as it brings a lot of shame, embarrassment, and worry. However, many parents with multiple children may experience more difficulty managing one child more than another.

First, your child is not “difficult” but your parenting has become difficult and your perception of your child is they are difficult. Today I am offering 3 skills to apply when parenting your child.

1. Master the art of redirection.

To begin, you want to master the art of redirection. Some children become stuck and parents perpetuate their “stuckness” through long winded discussions and therefore focusing on the very thing parents want the child to move away from. Redirection needs to be applied through action and enthusiasm. “Look I see a bird on the feeder! I am going to count all the birds I see to tell daddy!” Keep in mind, redirections need to match the child’s developmental stage.

2. Give your child praise.

Praise your child when they have done something right! Sometimes parents come into therapy saying everything wrong their child is doing and they cannot answer me when I ask “what do they do well?”. I spend time here as I want the parents to see their child with a more positive lens. I want them to see their child does not school behavioral problems, they have good grades, they put their laundry in the basket, they are kind to the siblings, etc. Take time to reflect on your child’s behaviors and be on the look out for identifying their strengths and saying to them “You did an excellent job brushing your teeth tonight!”.  Make sure when you praise your child you want to be specific about what they did well. The more you praise the more you get that behavior. If you tell someone you love how punctual they are for work you increase the likelihood they will continue to be on time. When you praise your child they realize the can please you and kids always want to make their parents happy.

3. Get your mood in check.

Check your own mood to be more present with your kids. Often times our own stress and anger can interrupt positive parenting. Take time between work and being with family to compartmentalize your stress. Mindfulness and deep breathing can help you be present so you can improve your parenting skills.

Making these 3 small changes can enhance your parenting and improve your relationship with your child. Remember your child is not “difficult” but your parenting has become difficult. Use these skills to change your interactions today.

How have you parented you “difficult child?” Share your tips in the comments below. 

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