Since a misbehaving child is a discouraged child, the obvious solution for misbehavior is encouragement. Often it is not necessary to deal with the misbehavior. Instead, help the child feel encouraged, significant, and a sense of belonging, and the misbehavior will disappear.
One-on-one time doesn’t have to be long, but should be a small commitment of devoted time for you and your child to be together alone. It is meant to be child-led and will make an incredible difference in maintaining healthy behavior and turning “misbehavior” around. Keep it light and fun—save corrections and heavy topics for another time.
Establishing and maintaining special time with your children puts you on the fast track to minimizing power struggles and does more than anything else to “fill up the tank” of belonging and significance...
Important Aspects of Special Time • Attitude
o When you convey the attitude that special time—and thus the child himself—is valuable and worthwhile to you, they feel important, and their need to “misbehave” decreases.
o Scheduled special time is a reminder to you about why you had children in the first place—to enjoy them.
o Special time will be most effective when you can focus on being fully present.
o Uninterrupted, screen-free time. Turn off your phone; close the door; set the timer.
o One-on-one time is most powerful without an audience. Make a plan with your other
children, if needed, for what they will do while you have special time with another child.
This may take practice and creativity—special time is so appealing.
• Name It
o Even if you are already spending daily play-time with your child, name it. The word “special” is loaded with meaning, even for very young children. Differentiate it from regular free time.
A child who feels belonging and significance is an encouraged child—a child with courage. Through one-on-one time, you and your child will develop a deeper bond, a stronger connection. The benefits are countless!
Ages 0-2: Simply make sure they feel your enjoyment. Ages 2-6: 10/15+ minutes every day—set the timer. Ages 7-12: Plan 30 minutes once or more per week.
Ages 13+: Teens and young adults need one “date” every two weeks or so—something they can’t resist.
Some ideas: Dress up, blocks or Lego, playing dolls, trains/cars, coloring/art, crafts, card and board games, going for a walk or a run, playing sports, etc. Involve your child in the planning, or better yet, brainstorm together then leave it up to your child!
India de Kanter and April Geiger, adapted from Glenda Montgomery and the Positive Discipline Association
Ginny Johnstone is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, consultant and Heal Your Life coach specialising in teaching conscious parenting ideas and self-awareness tools to parents and teachers in South Africa.