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9 actions to take when your child misbehaves—that have nothing to do with punishment

What if our children were beautifully behaved all the time? Just imagine that for a moment. Okay, now back to reality. Our children are going to misbehave at some point. Of course, they are. Misbehaving is our children's way of testing themselves, understanding limits, and experimenting with their own sense of agency and identity. It's also a way for them to test their relationship with us. And that's fine, we understand that.

But misbehavior can be difficult to deal with. It can come at the most inopportune times. It can push our buttons. It can derail a perfectly good morning or afternoon or evening.

So what can we do when our children misbehave? We have a few options:

1. Use it as a teaching moment—guide and coach them.

Acting out is almost always a teaching moment. If our children are behaving inappropriately, then we can guide them to behave in a more appropriate way. Sometimes the teaching can happen at the moment and other times, it happens once everyone has calmed down.

Your child might lose it at the shopping mall. But then you wait until you're home to talk through what happened and how they could have behaved differently. You guide and coach them rather than punishing them.

2. Ask a question that encourages a response.

We're very good at telling our kids what to do or what they're doing wrong. But sometimes, it's much more helpful to ask a question to get them thinking. Phrases like:

  • "Would you like me to help you pack up or would you like to do it by yourself?"
  • "Shall we go out in the morning or in the afternoon?"
  • "What's next on your list to get ready this morning?"

3. Problem solve with your littles.

Instead of always fixing the problem or coming up with the solution, we can problem solve with our kids. Ask them what is going on or what they could do differently. If they can't come up with any solutions themselves, feel free to prompt them, give them ideas and then work with them to choose an approach to try. We can then give it a go and reflect on what worked or what else we might like to try.

4. Step back and see if they need help with something.

Sometimes our kids act out because they don't have the skills or capabilities to complete a task so they get frustrated or annoyed and behave poorly. In those instances, we can suggest a next step or show them how to do something. For example, show them how to tie the laces on their right foot and then encourage them to try on their left foot. You can get them to choose a piece of fruit for their lunch box while you make them a sandwich. Or, show them how to sweep the floor and then watch them try.

5. Acknowledge the emotions they’re feeling.

Children can behave negatively when they are overcome by emotion. They can't deal with their big emotions, so they misbehave. We can acknowledge how they are feeling:

  • "I can see that you're frustrated. Perhaps we can try another way."
  • "I know you're tired. I'm tired, too. But let's work together to get this done,"
  • "I know you're really disappointed that we can't go to the playground this afternoon, but the weather is not good. Let's do some baking together and hopefully, the weather will be better tomorrow."

6. Remove them from the situation.

If it's a public place, sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself and your child from the situation. Not because you are trying to avoid the learning opportunity or to rescue your child. But because you both will benefit from being in a calmer environment.

In the middle of the shopping mall, there may be too much noise and activity so you leave your shopping for another day. You may want to stay talking to your friends over dinner but your child is overtired so it's time to go home. Your child has had enough time on the iPad so you put it away and go outside together to get some fresh air.

7. Acknowledge their emotions, then walk away.

Give both of you some space rather than try to fix, solve or teach right now. Allow everyone to calm down and then try again. You might understand how they are feeling than say, "I'll just be in the kitchen getting lunch ready." You might begin slowly walking towards the car after you've told them it is time to leave.

8. Keep your response brief and to the point.

We can get into yelling matches with our kids where they talk back and then we talk back and then they talk back, and the cycle continues. Instead, we can be the adult and not contribute to the argument. Try saying something like, "That's interesting" in a very even tone of voice. Or, "I know and I understand" but end it there. With few words and an even tone of voice, we can defuse the situation rather than making it worse.

9. Give them a hug.

When our children are overwhelmed, sometimes all they need is a hug from us. We can hold them and tell them that we understand. We can breathe with them and help them calm down. We can share a loving moment and give our children some of our love and receive some love from them. Acknowledge that they are learning and growing and so are we—connect and bond.

So what it does tell us? We have options! We don't have to react, yell, nag, threaten or punish our kids. We can work with them in a constructive and loving way to bring better behavior to more moments.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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