Before I had children of my own, I had tons of information about parenting. Six years of graduate school in child clinical psychology will do that to a person! I learned the ins and outs of rewarding, ignoring, time out, and just about any other parenting strategy you could think of. I taught these skills to parents to use with their children and was always sure to tell them the “textbook” guidelines for how to handle problem behaviors.
Well, that was all fine and dandy until I had children of my own! It was only then that I found out that much of what you learn in psychology and parenting textbooks is pretty hard to put into practice in real life (no matter how long you were in graduate school!). It’s not as easy as it sounds to ignore your screaming child in the grocery store because that’s the correct way to handle that misbehavior, when you know good and well you can put an end to their crying if you just buy them some candy!
I quickly learned that I was going to have to change my way of thinking when it came to parenting. Knowing all the tricks of the trade was going to be of no use if I couldn’t put them into practice with my own children!
I think the one thing I caught onto quickly that helped me the most was to TRY to do things according to the way that the experts recommended. Getting a lot of knowledge on how to handle behavior problems is half the battle. Then, prepare to use what you know when your child acts up. When I don’t (which happens more often than I’d like to admit), I like to reflect on it and think about what I wish I would have done differently. That helps me mentally prepare for the next time the same situation occurs, and it undoubtedly will. Then I have in my bag of tricks for the future some ideas on how I can handle that crying child on the candy aisle, because they’re usually mine!