Before responding to your child’s misbehavior, consider this… by Dr. Munn Saechao, child and adolescent psychotherapist in Mountain View, CA and online therapist for professional women of color.

I’ve worked with many well informed and loving teachers and parents who respond to their children and adolescents with consequences out of overwhelm, frustration, and exhaustion. ⠀

When your child misbehaves, it’s important to pause, breathe, and consider “why” your child might be acting out. For example, is it to get your attention? Is it to express a biological need? And is it developmentally appropriate? Asking these questions will increase your empathy and odds of effectively responding to your child’s developmental needs.

Second, ask yourself, “what” do I want to teach my child in this moment? Do I want to teach them to be more patient or be more diligent about studying independently for example? Whatever it is, be intentional about want you want to teach your child in the moment.

Third, consider how best to teach the lesson. If you want to motivate your child to do well academically for example, rather than threatening to take away something (e.g. football, video games, etc.), encourage them to try their best; reward them for studying and working really hard, and be consistent.

A reward can be simple and small such as a labeled praise and/or gesture (e.g. I’m so proud of you for your hard work, extra hugs and kisses). You know your child and what motivates them. Just make sure the reward is genuine, reasonable, and earned.

The hardest part about all of this is to pause, breathe, and think, especially when overwhelmed and under pressure. Yet when you practice this type of self-control and thinking, you model for your child emotional regulation and critical thinking, and you are helping them to develop their executive functioning skills.

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Disclaimer: The content in this post is only intended to increase your knowledge on parenting and child development; it is not online therapy. If you’re concerned about your child’s immediate safety please call 911 and consult with a licensed clinician about any clinical symptoms you are observing in your child.⠀

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