How can I stop my child from mimicking naughty behaviour?
For some children, copying misbehaviour allows them to test limits and to obtain attention, even if it’s negative.
As a parent, you need to demonstrate that certain limits exist in the household no matter what misbehaviour is thrown your way – that no attention will be provided and that the benefits of such behaviour are actually null. Try the tips below!
If you realise that your child is mimicking unpleasant behaviour to get something from you (diverting your attention away from the new baby) or something she wants (ice cream instead of a proper lunch), ignore her behaviour.
If you need to, leave the space in which your child is. Make it clear that her behaviour will not get her what she wants, and that when she is ready to behave and talk nicely with you, you will hear her out.
For children aged 6 and above, you can actually “mirror” the inappropriate behaviour.
Ask something like, “Would you like it if I did this…” and engage in said behaviour. Some children do not understand how they may present themselves when they are misbehaving, and it helps for parents to be a reflection sometimes.
Hint to your child that you know or suspect where the copycat behaviour originates from. You can say something like, “It may be alright for Sasha to shout in her house, but in our house, we use words to ask for what we want.”
Praise behaviour that is helpful, pleasant and kind. Emphasise that you appreciate such behaviour through cuddles, high-fives and verbal praise, or even a celebratory ice cream.
From The Finder (Issue 286), October 2017
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