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The more you tell me to do it, the less I want to do it

How to prevent bad behavior before it even happens.

This morning I was reading through the interview I did with parenting coach Jessie Buttons a while back.

One thing she said stood out for me:

Children feel like they're being pushed along till the end of the day. What that feels like for a child is they have no authority over themself. They have no control over themself. And what they do is they decide, "You know what? I'm gonna have a little bit of control. I'm gonna dig my heels in and I'm gonna do the opposite. I'm going to cause some sort of trouble because I don't like being bossed around."

Jessie Buttons

It stood out for me because it reminded me about something that my 6-year-old son said to me the other day.

I was telling him to clean up his toys for the third time. He looked at me and said, "The more you tell me to do it, the less I want to do it."

Here's the thing: everyone wants to have control. It is a basic human need. And children want that even more, because they have so little control. They constantly get told what to do, and most of the time their needs or wants aren't acknowledged.

And what happens? They start to become stubborn, difficult, or just ignore us. They do that because they want to take back some control of their lives, and by refusing to cooperate, they get that feeling of control.

In her free parenting class, Amy McCready from Positive Parenting Solutions explains how all children have these attention and power "buckets" that need to be filled. And if they don't have positive ways to fill them, then they will use negative behaviors to get them filled.

She also explains that common bad behaviors - whining, clinging, sibling rivalry, refusing to eat or go to sleep - can all be explained by these buckets being empty.

The good news is that once you understand how these negative behaviors are driven by your child's unfulfilled needs, it becomes much easier to proactively deal with the real causes of bad behaviors, before they even happen.

Even better, it is not that difficult to fill these buckets. In fact, often, by just making some small changes to your current routines, you can stop your kids from acting out, not listening, fighting, or disobeying on purpose.

Sign up for Amy's free parenting class, to discover how to fill your child's attention and power buckets easily and positively.