Parents feel out of their depth dealing with their children’s behaviour

Many parents are feeling stressed, guilty and alone when it comes to dealing with their children’s behaviour.

About 1 in 2 parents believe they lose patience with their children too quickly, while a third of parents feel  both remorseful after losing their temper and overwhelmed by their child’s behaviour, according to findings from the latest The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) National Child Health Poll.

However, the poll also found 95 percent of parents confirmed they use positive strategies to promote good behaviour in their children, such as attention, praise and rewards.

Other findings included:

  • A third of parents (33%) said children should be on their best behaviour at all times, suggesting a lack of understanding about the range of normal childhood behaviours
  • almost half (45%) of parents are not confident that they would know where to go for help if they had difficulty managing their child’s behaviour
  • Punitive techniques used at least ‘some of the time’ in the previous month included:
    • Shouting or yelling at their child (61%)
    • Making their child feel bad to teach them a lesson (35%)
    • Threatening physical discipline (23%)
    • Using physical discipline (17%) such as smacking, hitting, spanking, slapping, pinching or pulling
  • More than half of Australian parents (51%) think it is never OK to use physical discipline with a child. However, almost one in five parents (23%) subscribe to the myth that physical discipline teaches a child to respect their parents. Another one in five (23%) incorrectly believe it teaches self-discipline, while a quarter believe children can become unmanageable without physical discipline.

According to RCH Poll Director and paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes parents needed to remember that children behave in different ways depending on their age, temperament and developmental stage and that it’s normal for children to test their boundaries.

“Children’s brains are hardwired for attention. The best type of attention for a child to receive is a positive response to desired behaviour. Praise, praise and more praise. If you see your child behaving well – praise them and tell them what they did well. This a powerful way to encourage them to behave that way again,” Dr Rhodes said.

“Physical discipline is not an effective way to encourage good behaviour and it can have long-lasting negative effects on a child, including reduced self-esteem and psychological harm. Children who experience aggressive discipline are also more likely to develop aggressive behaviour themselves.”

The RCH has put together a range of valuable advice and resources to help parents manage their children’s behaviour | LEARN MORE

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