Health Matters: Communicating with Kids
It’s the part of parenting doctors say many parents struggle with. “If we ignore the behavior, generally that behavior is going to get worse,” said Golisano children’s Hospital pediatric psychologist Dr. Jason Sabo.
He says behaviors like slamming doors and talking back need to be addressed and corrected. “So when it comes to acting out, there’s always a reason for it and it’s important for us as parents to really identify why is that there and what’s it doing?” For older children, he recommends parents lead a conversation with their child—making sure you keep the tone calm and direct. “If we just constantly punish a negative behavior it’s generally going to be replaced with another negative behavior. So if we can address the source of it, we’re going to be much more successful at changing the behavior in the long term,” he said.
Keep in mind, every behavior is a form of communication, and addressing it may cause it to get worse before it gets better. “As long as we remain consistent with our response that behavior will then start to go down. But if we try to change a behavior that we don’t’ want there, a lot of times you’re going to see an increase. Don’t let that scare you away from addressing a problem,” said Dr. Sabo.
Modeling good behavior and making sure the consequence is relative and appropriate can help to teach kids how to express themselves in a more positive and appropriate way.
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