Understanding Behavior in Children

Birth to Age Two
Infants and toddlers frequently get frustrated because there's a large gap between the things they want to do and what they are actually able to do. Kids often respond to those dilemmas with behaviors such as crying, pouting or temper tantrums. I am sure those of you who have children know what I am talking about. I believe all dads agree the feeling of being helplessness comes over us all. Remember: Children can not talk, therefore crying often is there way of communicating a call for affection, food or a trusty diaper change from daddy. Remember that when we get board we can read a book or go to the gym. Toddlers have yet to develop these Daddy coping skills and rely on us to do it for them. Be patient and remember how important you are as a Daddy to your child.

Ages Three to Five
At this stage of the game you may want to continue to use time-outs. Instead of assigning a specific time limit, it's a good idea to end time-outs as soon as your child has calmed down. This is an effective way to encourage your child to improve his or her sense of self-control. It's also a good idea to praise your child for not losing control in situations that are frustrating or difficult. It also teaches your child the important lesson of acceptance that he can't always get what he/she wants.

Ages Six to Nine
As your child enters school, he or she will likely be able to understand the idea of consequences and that he or she can choose good or bad behavior. It may help your child to imagine a stop sign that he or she needs to obey and think about a situation before responding. You may want to encourage your child to walk away from a frustrating situation for a few minutes to cool off instead of having an outburst.

Ages Ten to Twelve
Older children are typically able to understand their feelings. This is a great asset since thoughts and feelings often dictate behavior. Encourage your child to think about the situation that is causing him or her to feel (angry, sad, jealous, afraid, hurt etc.) and then discuss it with them. Then teach your child to take some time to think before reacting to the feeling. Provide positive reinforcement for expressing him/herself and having the courage to evaluate his/her feelings and thoughts. It is much easier to react to a situation and any child who does the opposite should be re-enforced.

Ages Thirteen to Eighteen
At this point, your child should be able to control most of his or her behaviors. But you may need to remind your adolescent to think about consequences of his or her behavior. Continue to urge you're teen to take time to evaluate situations before reacting to them. Also teach your child to talk through troubling situations rather than losing control, slamming doors, or yelling. At this point you may need to discipline your child by taking away certain privileges to reinforce the message that self-control is an important skill.

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