Don't try to resolve a dozen child-behavior problems at once. Here's a great example of what I'm talking about (email from parent):
"Our out of control daughter that is 16 years of age has been grounded for numerous reasons over the past two years. There have been periods of time in the two years that she has not been grounded although these times are not for very long. Some of the things that we have been dealing with are as follows:
Sex (suspect once in 07) ( now, since September 08) still seeing boyfriend at school. HAVING PROBLEMS COMING UP WITH CONSEQUENCES
Drug use (Marijuana)( first time not sure, but first time found “potato head” pipe in room April 09) HAVING PROBLEMS HERE TO
Retail Theft (Jan 09) (she paid fines and is attending theft class this weekend for it. We added an additional com service for church until end of school.)
Theft at her place of work ( Dec 08) she paid for it(her $), made amends and did 24 hours community service. (She seems sorry but still don’t trust her
Back talk (getting worse in 08 - 09) HAVEN’T ADRESSED THIS YET, well we have, but very badly apparently
Cutting (1st time with boy friend may of 07) got counseling and body checks thereafter, seemed to go away) she seemed healthier after break up with boy friend may of 07)caution
Attempted running away (twice in 07 )let go of this one too
Talk of suicide ( mostly in 07 – 08) let go with caution
Alcohol use (dabbled since 07) spot checks started and continue now and then ever since but let go with caution
Failing grades in school (since 07) WE ARE LETTING GO
Skipping school (once in 07) WILL BE TRUENT NEXT TIME, DON’T THINK SHE WILL DO IT AGAIN
Cigarette smoking (started in 07, got worse) WE LET GO OF THIS ONE
Lying (since she turned 12 and has gotten worse over time) HAVING PROBLEMS HERE TO
Trust is a big issue!!!
Present boyfriend is also doing drugs.
HELP!!! What can we do?"
When parents chase their tails trying to find solutions to multiple problems at once, they become so scattered and confused that their ability to problem solve is greatly reduced.
==> PICK YOUR BATTLES CAREFULLY -- but perhaps more importantly -- PICK THEM ONE AT A TIME !
Here's the good news:
Let's say you have 10 behavior problems that your child is exhibiting. If you will tackle the most pressing issue first (first things first - and keep it simple), then you can move onto the second issue with a lighter load on your back. And by the time you get to issue number 3 or 4...
...you will find that issues 5 through 10 have taken care of themselves !!!
HELLO... Did you get it?!
Let me say it again:
By the time you get to issue number 3 or 4, issues 5 through 10 will have taken care of themselves.
So you see, when you try to fight 10 battles at once, you (a) fight all 10 and (b) run a huge risk of not solving even one of them.
On the other hand, when you only fight 1 battle at a time, you end up only fighting 3 to 4 total -- not 10.
Here's to working smarter rather than harder,
Mark Hutten, M.A.
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