It’s a new year, which is a great time to look at making better decisions. Struggling kids and their parents alike can benefit as much as anyone else (or even more) from setting some new self-care goals for 2019. Here’s how you can help your children with behavioral challenges and make your own life easier, too.
Everyone has challenges, even though our challenges are all different. Model self-acceptance for your own weaknesses and mistakes, and you’ll do your child a great favor. When your child Is being too hard on himself for a mistake, remind him to forgive himself. Have a gentle, forgiving attitude about mess-ups.
Commit to a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation can easily be described as an epidemic in our society. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. A National Sleep Foundation study found that kids are just as sleep-deprived, due largely to too-late bedtimes and too much electronics use near bedtime. Inadequate sleep causes problems for everyone. It can make it harder for parents to have patience. In kids, it can also increase irritability, cause more behavioral problems, and make it harder to focus and pay attention. Make it a family priority to get more sleep, even if it means giving up a few activities.
Build Consistent Routines
Consistency is one of the most important keys in helping kids. All kids need predictable routines, but especially kids with social or behavioral issues. Try to stick to a stable structure every day, with the same tasks being done at roughly the same times each day. If your child also has learning difficulties, make sure to build in time for practice on skills they need. Predictable routines are a form of self-care because they inherently eliminate a common source of anxiety in children.
Offer Positive Reinforcement
Be sure to offer lots of positive feedback to your child, especially when you notice them doing something well. Kids with behavioral challenges, learning difficulties, or social challenges may often feel like they get more negative feedback. Giving them appropriate feedback when they make good choices is a form of positive reinforcement. The more you notice and comment on the behaviors you want to see, the more likely your child will try to continue them.