Your Child’s Misbehavior is Your Message!

Today’s news comes to us from one of our experts Ava Parnass. You can read her whole article on…. In her well-written piece you will find the exact answer to one of the most important parenting questions parents ask. “How do I stop my child’s misbehavior?”

Here is that answer:

“Our children’s misbehavior is a Message, Are we listening?”

One parent started spending $500 per week for therapy plus additional money for medication prescribed specifically for ADD. Even though this expensive and medication-oriented intervention solved the problem, she noticed that with this intervention that her child started to have some new abnormal behaviors that he didn’t have before–repetitive phobic behaviors.

Ava, with her trained eye and sensitive ear, explained “now that they medicated him out of his lack of focus without changing the parenting techniques used at home he is developing alternative symptoms to express what’s not working for him.”

This time the mom was ready to listen.

“If parents look at behavior as a message of hidden feelings plus emotional needs that aren’t being met, a parent can begin to solve the problems.”

Here are some “alternatives to parenting by logic, yelling lecturing, educating, and pressuring.”

Listening: Repeating back!  ”Love that you made a new friend.”

Empathy: “I am sorry that happened; that is hard.”

Wondering: “What can I do differently as a parent? Do I pressure you too much to behave? Do I spend enough time with my child? Do I argue and disagree with what he or she tells me all the time? Do I always tell you to do better?”

Here is Ava’s very important message. There are many suggested techniques to get rid of bad behavior, but many are solutions that target symptoms and as a result only mask the real issues. Most important is to listen to your child, get the correct message, and then provide an intervention that genuinely relieves your child’s discomfort.

As Ava always says… “If we change our parenting, our children will change!”

October! The Month of Positive Energy

While someone else might use logic, lecture, educate, explain, convince, prove and point out (all which are perceived by kids as criticism and pressure) you can be understanding with this kind of advance teaching from The Magic Words of Manners

At times you’ll see you raise your voice

And much too loud for praise.

Then think again about your words

And use this little phrase



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  1. This is such a powerful message to grasp and put into place. It’s also especially important for divorced parents who must be particularly diligent in looking for negative behavior changes. They are a message that your child is struggling and needs your help in accepting the changes in his/her life following divorce. So heed this advice and nip behavior problems in the bud with your own Listening, Empathy and Wondering skills. Thanks for this valuable information!

    • Thanks Rosalind for your support!!
      And yes it is just as important in divorce.
      I know one parent wants to medicate her child instead of helping them with the fall out from the divorce:(

  2. Thank you both for your insightful comments. How’s this for an easy way to keep this advice handy?

    What can parents do “in lieu” of yelling, criticizing, and lecturing?

    Listen (L)

    Empathize (E)

    Wonder (W)

    The new Lew!

    • cool, thats awesome:)
      I love it…LEW
      I have one I made up too
      Parenting with
      Praise Empathy Talking Appreciation and Listening !
      now we have Petal and LEW 🙂
      So good to dialogue with colleagues!!!

  3. Listening is one of the hardest skills to implement as parents since we always want to lecture and butt in too soon. Repeat what your child is saying, paraphrase their meaning and ask if you have it right. It’ll open the doors to more authentic communication. Then you can ask more probing questions and get important feedback in return. This will build trust and greater rapport.

    • yes perfect
      “Repeat what your child is saying, paraphrase their meaning and ask if you have it right.”
      Now that mine is a tween I find the more listening and the less said the better..
      she can more easily come to her own conclusion without me confusing her with mine:)
      Not always easy to be quiet(lol)

  4. That is good news, Ava. This conversation is extremely important and should be very helpful to many parents.

    Do you know the 70/30 rule? It is best to listen 70% of the time and talk for 30%. That particular principle comes to parenting directly from the business world… very interesting.

    Love your “easier said than done” acknowledgement. None of this is easy to do, but all of it is important. That is what makes our teachings so valuable.

  5. While I listen a lot it is still hard not to respond and give advice !!
    Sally I love that 70/30 that’s a perfect way to say listen more talk less !!!
    My specialty with kids is 0 to 10!
    now that mine is getting older I’m finding that my usual 70/30 is too much!
    I think I’m going to move to 80/20 and then 90/10 mostly listening appreciation and love:)
    Anyone with teens have you found the same:)!?
    So ladies we have
    1/Repeat and Paraphrase ,2/ lew,3/petal 4/ 70/30 …how cool is that , a post on its own!!

  6. Such valuable advice. I hope every reader is taking this to heart. It can make a huge difference in your parenting success. My own son is now a grown young man — and advice is still as useful — because everyone wants to be heard and validated first, before they’re open to hearing anything else!

  7. Ava and Rosalind, look what we have created!

    1/Repeat and Paraphrase ,2/ lew,3/petal 4/ 70/30 …how cool is that , a post on its own!!

    Thank you Ava for putting this together.

    “Petal” is new to me, and I love it! Just the softness of the word helps as you find yourself in the process of carrying out its meaning.

    There are “15 Pillars of Parenting.” Here are two that are integrally related to this conversation.

    1. Use praise and encouragement appropriately. That’s our “P.”

    2. Make your child feel valued, needed, and important. That’s our “a.”

    What fun it is to make sense out of so much good sense!


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