How to change your kid’s behaviour

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One of the things that I looked forward to most about my maternity leave was the opportunity to spend more time with my older kids. To have some downtime with them between school and activities and the bazillion ‘to dos’ we fill our lives with. To connect with them, and get to know them better now that they were becoming their own little people with their own big personalities.

I had grand ideas of what life as a stay-at-home parent would be like: slow mornings and well-rested kids; pulling perfectly-timed cookies from the oven as they walk through the door after school; having actual discussions about their days, instead of the blunt Q&A of our current work-school routine.

“How was your day?”

“Fine.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing”

But staying at home was not exactly as I’d expected. Instead of a calm, happy household, I found myself in a daily battle with two kids who wouldn’t listen to me and fought with each other all the time. Give it time, I told myself. We’d just brought a new baby into our house. We were all adjusting.

But time only seemed to make things worse, particularly with my son, who started struggling with his behaviour at school too. We started receiving notes from his Kindergarten teacher informing us when he had had a bad day, when he was being a distraction in class. What can I do to support him? she asked. But we didn’t know. If we could just make it to the end of the school year,  I thought, things will get better over the summer.

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They got worse. Sure, we had a great family vacation. We did a lot of fun things. But there were also a lot of days where it felt like every good moment was book-ended by bad ones. If I asked my son to do something, he ignored me. If I gave him a consequence, he ran away screaming and crying and saying “I hate you.” He harassed his sister. He mocked us. And no matter how angry we got, no matter how much we escalated the consequences, he rarely backed down.

When school started again, so did the notes from his new teacher. He wasn’t a mean kid, but he struggled with listening. Fortunately, we have had two great teachers who were committed to helping him focus and supporting his success at school. His new teacher started giving us daily updates on how he was doing. “Green” was a good day, “yellow” meant he’d struggled a bit and “red” was, well, not great. Please let him be green, I’d think as he walked in the door after school. Nope. Red again.

I didn’t want him to be “that kid.” I wanted him to feel good about school. I wanted him to be good at home. I didn’t know what to do to fix his behaviour. So one night, after a particularly bad day, I Googled, “Why is my kid acting like an asshole?” And this is the answer I got: Continue reading How to change your kid’s behaviour