8 Simple Ways to Redirect your Kids Up & Out of Misbehavior (with loads of integrity)

by | January 8, 2020 | 4 comments

8 Simple Ways to Redirect your Kids Up & Out of Misbehavior (with loads of integrity)

by | January 8, 2020 | 4 comments

You’ve got littles that misbehave & push buttons (because you’re raising human kiddos) … I’ve got solutions to help you get them to listen better & cooperate more, without relying on fear, force, bribery & rewards.

Sound good? Of course it does!

We ALL want to have peaceful, joyful, connected days with our kids, but often times … power surge stages of life (like the toddler, tween & teen years) can drive us to become parents we never wanted to be.

>>> Parents who move to threatening, punishing, scolding, yelling, scaring, or forcing more than we’d like to admit.

>>> Parents who have an easier time pointing out our kids’ flaws, then focusing on the good.

>>> Parents who resort to bribing & rewarding for everything from going potty, to cleaning rooms, to “being good”, to getting in the car.

Now trust me, I’ve been in a parenting season when my day to day life included all these things on constant rotation (Podcast episode #1 of The Fresh Start Family Show talks all about that!).

It was draining, sucked the joy from my days as a mother & created bitterness & exhaustion no parent deserves.

I’m here to bring you good news – there is a better way! I’ve dedicated my life’s work to passing on what I’ve learned … and to helping parents learn to do things differently so they can LOVE parenthood & LOVE raising their kids!

It really is possible to influence our kids to behave well and respect our leadership in ways that are healthy, kind, firm & gentle … and the long term results are INCREDIBLE.

True power can be found in these 8 strategies that will have you redirecting your kids up and out of misbehavior like a #boss in no time.

  1. Ask for what you want
  2. Seek to understand
  3. Use empathy often
  4. Be patient
  5. Use friendly eye contact & gentle touch
  6. Listen intently
  7. Use a neutral, respectful tone
  8. Implement fresh starts

When your child pushes back, says no, doesn’t listen, hits, talks back, scribbles on the walls, won’t eat his peas, whatever it is … consider trying out one of these 8 strategies.

I promise they work WELL as I have personally used them with my own kids over the last decade to influence my children with integrity — to see things my way & get on board with what I ask them to do.

Nearly a decade after our family started practicing the work of positive parenting in our home, we’ve been able to form an incredibly strong relationship with our children based on trust, respect, healthy boundaries, firm kindness & an unbreakable bond of unconditional love. This is my wish for you ALL as you head into the new decade.

Cool? Ok, Let’s get learning!

1.) Ask for what you want

Quick activity for you (trust me and just go along with it, ok?)

Close your eyes & do NOT picture a big 1000 lb. gray elephant. Do it now for 5 seconds.

Ok honestly, what did you picture & fixate on?

Yes of course, a giant 1000 lb. gray elephant!

This same thing happens when we scream at our kids things like:

  • Do NOT play with your food
  • Don’t pull the dog’s tail
  • Stop being so rough with your sister
  • Do not talk to me with that tone

Their little brains focus on exactly what we DON’T want them to do!

Instead, switch it up & ask for what you want:

  • Please put your food in your mouth & we can play with legos after dinner
  • Can you show me how you pet the dog gently?
  • Please use soft, gentle hands with your baby sister so she stays safe.
  • I’d love for you to use a respectful, kind tone with me and I’ll do the same with you.

This free planning worksheet will give you ways to build connection & ideas on how to work WITH them instead of trying to change them. Click HERE to get your free worksheet now.

2.) Seek to Understand

Often times as parents, we jump to conclusions when our kids misbehave. Things like:

  • You are purposely trying to push my buttons
  • You are just being selfish
  • You are acting entitled and don’t appreciate what you have
  • You are being mean to your sister for no reason
  • You aren’t listening because you think you can do whatever you want. (spoiled brat)

Any of those sound familiar?

Of course they do as this is our culture’s common way of thinking about kids’ misbehavior. Kids are just being naughty, bad, disobedient, etc. & a bad child = a bad parent.

Positive Parenting curricilum teaches us to view it a different way & to embrace a NEW paradigm that includes this mindset:

A misbehaving child = a child that is communicating = an empowered parent who can help their child get their needs met respectfully & teach important life lessons with integrity.

Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs teaches us that misbehavior is simply communication. When kids “act up”, they are trying to get their needs met, but don’t have the maturity or the ability YET to communicate their need in a healthy respectful way.

So it is our job to mentor them along the way and teach them HOW to communicate better.

When parents slow down to seek to understand what’s going on (instead of assuming negative intent in their child), kids respond a lot better.

Learning about the 4 Categories of Misbehavior – check out episode 9 of the Fresh Start Family Show for more info!

Seeking to Understand & Properly Identifying the 4 Categories of Misbehavior in Children (a starting place to be able to correctly redirect towards better behavior):

  1. Attention Misbehavior:
    • Parent feels irritated & annoyed by their child
    • Child’s mistaken belief: “The more attention I get from my parent, the more loved I am.”
  2. Power Misbehavior:
    • Parent feels provoked & challenged by their child
    • Child’s mistaken belief: “In order to feel powerful, I must overpower.”
  3. Revenge Misbehavior:
    • Parent feels hurt, angry & sometimes even rage towards their child
    • Child’s mistaken belief: “When I feel hurt, I need to hurt others.”
  4. Avoidance/Inadequacy Misbehavior:
    • Parent feels pity for & the need to rescue their child
    • Child’s mistaken belief: “I am incapable, incompetent & can’t do things on my own.”

3.) Use Empathy Often

Empathy is like a superpower … it’s not always easy to muster up empathy for others, but when you do, it does great things for relationships & aids in creative problem solving.

Think of it this way:

Think of the last time you had a disagreement or “challenging situation” with someone. Whether it was your Mom, Sister, Husband or the phone operator at the cable company or a staff member at Ikea.

When you’re not seeing “eye to eye” but someone slows down to listen & say “I can totally see why you feel upset about this situation, help me to understand more how you’re feeling.” … you instantly feel somewhat better & able to hear them out or problem solve with them right?

As opposed to someone who you’re disagreening with just firmly holding their ground, arguing their point to it’s death & never pausing for a second to consider how you’re feeling or hear your side out.

Since parenting is so relational, dealing with our kids in times of upset, flows much easier when we exercise our empathy muscles & let them know we’re listening & can see why they’re struggling.

4.) Be patient

Uggghhhhh easier said than done, I know, I know … but parents, you’ve got to trust me, slowing down is good for ALL of us & our kids just give us lots of opportunities each day to freeze time for a moment.

Did you know that there have been studies done that show kids under the age of 7 often take up to 17 seconds to process requests & respond to situations in life?

17 seconds seems like forever, but I’ve had so many parents test this over the years & they come running back to me saying:

The 17 Second Rule is Magic! I asked my child to put on his shoes … then walked away for 17 seconds to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water & when I cam back, he was ACTUALLY doing it!

Of course, this doesn’t work 100% of the time because remember, we’re raising little humans, not robots, but try it out, I think you’ll be surprised how often it does work. Kids, just like all of us, just HATE to be rushed & pushed & prodded & poked.

Give them a little freedom and they’ll often come around.

5.) Use friendly eye contact & soft, gentle touch

If your kids are anything like mine, they are basically mini-tornados, spinning around and around all day long, breezing through life & hopping from one fun activity to the next. Oh childhood, what an incredible care-free time!

None the less, kids who are always spinning, jumping, enjoying life to the fullest, have a hard time hearing us when they are kind of “fluttering” above earth.

When we come in with a soft hand on their shoulder, friendly eye contact and a warm smile …. it can really “bring them back down to the earth” and ground them.

After our soft touch & friendly smiled has been offered, we can THEN ask them to please get their shoes on, or brush their teeth, or clean up the toys … whatever we need them to do.

Promise you this helps tons to get their rate of cooperation to go way up!

This practice is also incredibly life giving for us parents because it forces us to slow down and look in our kids’ eyes, which is SUCH a beautiful thing.

You’ve probably heard the saying “window’s are eyes to the souls”? It’s so true I swear because taking a moment to really look into our children’s beautiful eyes, settles our souls tremendously & helps us feel super connected (which not only feels good, but translates to more influence with our kids too!)

6.) Listen intently

Now we all know as adults that there is nothing more maddening than when you are in a conversation with someone that clearly is not listening to a thing you are saying (or worse, doesn’t seem to even care). Ya feel me?

Often times, this is what happens with our kids when we get stuck in an “almighty parent” mode of “I don’t even care what you have to say, listen to me or else!” Kids often just shut down & become even MORE resistant to what we’re asking of them, leading them to drag their feet even slower.

Instead, take a deep breath & really listen to what they have to say when you “seek to understand”.

Try asking them “what’s going on” instead of saying “why are you being so bad?” If we slow down & hold space for our kids, they often will open up & explain why they are acting a certain way, which helps us then correctly asses which category of misbehavior they are in, so we can effectively redirect them up & out towards better behavior.

What doesn’t work to get kids to listen better & cooperate more (without moving to fear, force, bribery, rewards, etc,) is interrupting, nagging, lecturing, scolding, yelling, intimidating, etc. Those are all essentially the oppositive of listening intently and will cause your kiddo to pull away from you or if you’ve got a strong willed power kid like mine, push back even HARDER.

When using these methods, even if kids DO end up complying, it’s because they’re scared of the outcome or they just want you to go away, instead of cooperating because they truly respect you & the rules.

Make sense?

So slow down & practice a pause button the next time your child misbehaves, I promise you, even just one deep breath & listening intently for a short amount of time will help everyone feel better & make it much easier to move through conflict resolution.

7.) Use a neutral, respectful tone

Tone is a tricky thing. Most times we think if we don’t verbally say something, other’s won’t know what we’re thinking, but that’s actually not true at all.

Tone is the unverbal expression of feelings & if we’re in an annoyed, frustrated, defeated, hopeless, angry or irritated state of mind, you better bet our kids are going to feel & respond with the same tone.

So … one of my favorite practices to do when I’m tempted to respond to my kids with a nasty tone (body language, eye rolling, teeth gritted while I talk boldly, saying things with such scary intense stern-ness, etc.) … is to look at the wall & repeat to myself the color of the wall (in a neutral tone because it would be absurd to use an angry tone when you say “The wall is white“.)

THEN … after you’ve laid out to yourself what a nuetral, respectful tone is …. ask your kids for what you want.

  • I’d like you to please get in the car
  • It’s time to brush our teeth & go to bed
  • We need to clean up our toys in order to watch a show

When you talk to your kids in a calm, respectful, nuetral tone, I promise you, they will cooperate better & respond more respectfully also.

8.) Implement fresh starts

Don’t ever EVER be afraid to start fresh. No matter what kind of morning you’ve had with your kids, YOU have the power & the choice to make the afternoon joyful, peaceful & connected.

Remember that teaching will always be best accepted & processed when you sit down with your kids in a calm time (vs. trying to teach in the heated moment when everyone’s freaking out).

We don’t need to hold grudges or make our kids pay for their mistakes, we just need to stay committed to teaching them until they learn a better way.

So the next time your child melts down at the grocery store & tantrums the whole ride home, or your kiddo has a negative attitude all morning during a family photoshoot, or you & your spouse just can NOT get on the same page during bedtime one night, have the courage to start fresh.

Ask your family to join you & say “I want to try that again because this morning didn’t go as planned. I know we can do this together if we put our hearts & minds together, can we start fresh & try again this afternoon?”

I promise you fresh starts work so well to give everyone a second chance to try again.

Give those a go & let me know how they work for you, would ya? I love hearing from you guys, so leave a comment below!

Raising A Strong Willed, Intense or Sensitive Child? If yes, I have a FREE guide for you!

This free planning worksheet will give you ways to build connection & ideas on how to work WITH them instead of trying to change them. Click HERE to get your free worksheet now.

Learn more about how Positive Parenting Curriculum can transform your life through these Fresh Start Family programs


  1. Teri

    Love this advice! Thanks for sharing it. You mentioned the different types of misbehavior…is there somewhere I can read more about how to deal with those? Particularly, Power Misbehavior.

  2. Sarah Motlong

    So helpful! Thank you. I tried the 17 second thing and it worked once and didn’t work another time… still going to keep it going, I’m just curious if you could site the reference to the study for me, I’d love to research it further! Blessings!!

    • Wendy Snyder

      Hi Sarah – ha ha, yes, it’s no magic pill, but just keep trying it & you’d be suprised how often it “works” and also how it settles our own souls & helps us to remember just to chillllllllll, you know? lol.

      And yes, someone else asked me that question & I found a similar article referencing the study, let me see if I can find it again! Feel free to drop me an email at [email protected], just incase I forget to come back here!


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