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Little Minds That Don’t Mind

July 9th, 2014     By Boys Town Contributor, Mother of eight-year-old son and six and one-year-old daughters

Child Development, Discipline, Understanding Behavior

I struggle with behavior and discipline with my children, as I’m sure most parents do. I read a lot about correcting misbehavior and the best ways to deal with discipline and I found the following to be very interesting.

There are significant differences between our brain and our child’s brain.

First of all, young children have a very poor concept of time. The longer you wait to react to their behavior, the less effective it will be. In fact, if you wait too long, your child may wonder what you are talking about. Responding immediately will help your child associate their following directions with your positive attention or their poor listening with a negative consequence.

Similarly, young children struggle with time-based concepts in general. For example, a dad who learns that his teenage son has done poorly on yet another test might make dire predictions about how the son will fare in college. However, the teenager, looking out into the future from a place called Monday, can barely see all the way to a place called Friday, let alone something as far away as college. In other words, using extended time-based concepts to get through to teens (or younger children) usually goes nowhere.

In addition, children often don’t understand adult language as well as we think they do. For instance, children have difficulty seeing that two things that don’t look alike can be similar. Adults can easily tell that a birthday cake and a loaf of bread have similarities (e.g., both are made with flour, both have been baked) while young children usually cannot. Thus, telling a young boy he is being disciplined for a behavior that is “just like” a behavior that got him in trouble last week may mystify him because he cannot see the sameness. All he knows for sure is that his mother or father is mad at him – again.

Keep this in mind while figuring out how to talk to my kids about misbehavior is extremely important. Here is a group of other articles I found to be useful on this:

http://www.parenting.org/article/adolescence-a-period-of-temporary-insanity-0

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