Changing Behaviors and Mindsets

Methods to help improve behavior during this challenging time.

As a family behaviorist and Learning Specialist I see things with the unique lens. Working with families allows me to share with you many strategies and methods that work easily. Before we get to that, I want to ask you to consider some questions.

  1. Are you telling your kids to do some thing over and over again? Are you yelling until you’re blue in the face and are your buttons being pushed?
  2. Do your kids feel anxious or is their energy and lack of focus preventing them from follow through? No matter how many times you say something they do not retain it?
  3. Are your kids resistant to trying new things, experience, foods? Do they just shut down and don’t consider it and toss it out of hand?

Have you heard the terms fixed and growth mindset? A quick way to look at it is: Fixed mindset kids do not believe they can. The child’s belief is that they are unable to change talents, abilities and to learn new things. Growth mindset children believe they can! The child’s belief is that they are able to change their talents, abilities, and have the ability to learn new things.

Another way to look at Growth and Fixed Mindset is is an analogy I often offer. Imagine there is a large rock in the way of getting something your child really wants. Would your child sit down and cry, give up or wait for someone to come fix it for them? Would your child figure out a way around it or above it or try and figure out who to reach out to to give them ideas to succeed in getting to the other side?

I’d like to ask you to look at this through a different lens. Some thing I have always said: “kids need to know the rules so they can choose to follow them or choose to break them.” My method has just three components and requires a little bit of follow through on your part. This will help your child have follow through, this will help your child raise their self-esteem, this will have your child control their own behavior and motivation rather than someone doing it for them. Your child will become aware of their behaviors, your children want to please you and this enables them to. This will help strengthen your relationship and probably best of all it will help you stop yelling!

You are going to need to just follow the three steps, but know that it took a long time to create this behavior and self belief and it won’t change overnight. Just as it takes time for us to create a new habit to change our behavior, so it does children. Give yourself permission to know you won’t see changes overnight but know years of science proves that it takes forming new habits to change behaviors.

Let’s get to the three components and that bit of follow through:

  1. Set clear expectations that paint a very clear picture for your child.
  2. Praise the behaviors you’ve just said you want your child to show you.
  3. Ask your kids how they feel about doing it this new way and how they did.

Resist the urge to push or tell them how they did. Instead, ask them! We are helping them build self awareness, self confidence and self regulating rather than you pushing them. Let’s ask them how they did and praise them!

Remember that behaviors do not change overnight. Your follow through will take about two weeks. Each day or every other day or as many times as they show you that behavior and you catch them doing what you asked – name it and praise it, say, "I really like the way you just...", "I really like the way you tried...", "I really like the way you said...“.

You can find another article I wrote in this wonderful magazine giving you step-by-step directions on how to help kids stop fighting in the car. Those step-by-step strategies will help you apply it to change this behavior and to help your child feel more successful.

I want to acknowledge that you are all doing triple duty right now, and I want to suggest that you try to find some self soothing techniques that work for you to do include in your life so that you can parent with a little more ease.

I believe in you! I believe in your kids! It won’t always be like this!