Mother and daughter by the mountains

How to change your kids behavior

So for the last week, my nearly 5-year-old daughter had been driving me bonkers. She was disrespectful, rude, unwilling to do simple tasks and a downright brat. This is pretty unusual behavior for her, but I chalked it up to nerves about starting school in a week. I also have a ten-month-old who has decided to cut four teeth at once. So I’ve been getting no sleep, and the last thing I wanted to deal with was the daughter’s attitude.

I was crying about it to my dad last night on the phone (by the way he’s the best parent ever, never even raised his voice at us) and I was telling him that I hope the behavior goes away once she’s not nervous about school anymore.

Dad: ‘how do you know she’s nervous about school, did you ask her?’
Me: ‘well, no. However, it’s in a week, so I figured…’
Dad: ‘Wow, I’d be pretty frustrated if people made assumptions about how I was feeling all the time.’
Me: ‘But she’s not usually like this.’
Dad: ‘And you’re not usually so tired all the time, with the baby teething. I bet you’re a bit grumpy eh?’
Me: ‘I’m not trying to be grumpy.’
Dad: ‘ If she’s getting you riled up so easily when you’re grumpy I bet the results are quite different to when you’re not grumpy if you want her behavior to change, your behavior has to change.’

So today I have made the most significant effort. My daughter gets herself dressed every morning, but this morning I took the time to praise her for being independent. I asked her if I could eat breakfast with her. I praised her when I saw her helping her brother. We read her favorite book and had silly play time together. I appreciated her for wiping down the vanity after brushing her teeth. I’m making a huge effort to ‘Catch her being good.’ Also, it’s working!

She is helpful and kind. She isn’t sassing me or being mean to her brother! My home is peaceful again.
Don’t make the same mistake I did by assuming you know what’s going on with your kid. She wasn’t acting out because she was nervous about school, she was acting out because her Mumma was too tired and grumpy to invest in her.

I’m still exhausted because ya know, teething sucks. But that’s my problem, not hers.

Lesson learned: If you want your kids’ behavior to change, change yours first.


Publisher’s note: This post with permission from the author was originally posted on Reddit.