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As a clinical psychologist, published author, and mother to two cheeky young children, I get it. I’ve spent YEARS researching and filtering through the noise online, so you don’t have to.
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It’s super common for kids to see problematic behaviors at school + want to try them out at home. They are trying to process what they observed + test out your boundaries. Here’s how I address in the moment!
Two things before I share what works for us:
1. In our home, we talk daily about the concept of choices. This is a big theme in our conversations and it springboards so many helpful conversations related to personal and social situations.
2. My kids regularly come home and let us know what other children do in school. So we have a good grasp on the names of kids in their class + who often does what, lol.
Here’s what I do when I notice that my child may be re-enacting a behavior or phrases from someone at school:
In the moment, with curiosity + love, I try to draw their awareness to what they’re doing.
I will say something like, “I notice you’re doing XYZ. I haven’t seen you do that before (or in a long time). Do you notice that too?”
I discuss it very directly. I want to help them understand that they are picking up this behavior from someone else.
Often, they will reply, “Yes…” and tell me a story of what they saw. Then I do the next two things so that it’s a teaching moment…
I want my kids to continue to feel safe telling me what goes on in the classroom so I try to be mindful of my reactions (very hard to do!) and not come across as judgmental.
“Thanks for letting me know what you saw him/her do. It makes sense you wanted to come home and try that out too.”
I help them notice the impact of the behavior on others + why/how to make a different choice.
Another theme we often discuss is leadership. I empower my girls to be leaders who strive to make helpful/positive choices (vs. following others’ negative choices).
I will say, “You may see him/her do that but you’re a leader. You get to choose how to act.”
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As a clinical psychologist, published author, and mother to three young children, I get it. I’ve spent YEARS researching and filtering through the noise online, so you don’t have to.