Help! My Kids are Out of Control

It's important to take back control if you think your kids are out of control.
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While many parents feel like their kids are a bit out of control at one time or another, some kids are out of control almost all the time. If your kids break the rules more often than they follow them, take steps to regain your power.

Believe it or not, kids like rules and limits. Knowing an adult is in charge helps them feel safe. If you're not enforcing the rules and following through with consequences, your kids are likely experiencing a lot of distress.

If your children are out of  control, there are several things you can do to calm their behavior. Consistent discipline is the key to creating long-lasting behavior change.

Establish Rules

Establish household rules to reduce the chaos. Increase the structure in your home by making a schedule and getting the kids into a routine.

Assign specific tasks that will keep your kids out of trouble. Tell your children to set the table or invite them to help you do chores. Busy kids are less likely to get into trouble.

Focus on what your kids can do, rather than what they can't. So instead of saying, "No TV before dinner," say, "You can play with a puzzle or you can go outside." Offer positive choices that will give your child a little bit of control.

Create Effective Consequences

Follow through with negative consequences each time someone breaks a rule, especially if it involves aggressive behavior. Once your children see you're serious about enforcing the rules, they'll be more likely to behave.

Create a discipline toolbox filled with effective discipline strategies. Perhaps time-out will work best to deal with aggression, while taking away privileges may be the best way to deal with non-compliance. Develop a plan to deal with misbehavior so you can be prepared to respond when consequences are necessary.

Don’t be discouraged if your child's behavior seems to get a little worse before it gets better. When you start giving them consequences, they may really try to test the limits to see if you are serious. After they see you are serious about following through with consequences, their behavior will likely calm down.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Make sure that each child is getting enough of positive attention from you. This can be a little tricky for parents who are outnumbered. However, giving each child just 15 minutes of your undivided attention every day can prevent a lot of behavior problems before they start.

Praise also motivates kids to behave, so catch your children being good. Offer plenty of positive attention when your child follows the rules and you'll reduce a lot of attention-seeking behavior.

Create a reward system that will provide an extra incentive to behave. A token economy system can be a great motivator. Link privileges to good behavior and remember rewards don’t have to cost any money.

Tell your children they need to earn things, like time to play TV or time to play video games. If they follow the rules, they can earn those privileges. But if their behavior is out of control, they don't get to use their electronics.


Seek Professional Help

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If your children exhibit behavior problems that concern you, talk to your children's pediatrician.

A professional may be able to provide you and your children with interventions, skills and support that will help you regain control of the household. Parenting coaches and parenting support groups can also be valuable resources.

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