• Abby Cirkles

Bad Behavior? Try This.



I've been around kids of all ages and backgrounds for many years. I know the frustration and exhaustion attached to "Bad Behavior". Retraining behavior doesn't happen over night. There are deep roots and webs in these actions and attitudes that take prayer, consistency, and training. But also... MANY times a good dose of one-on-one attention can correct SO MUCH. Here's what many parents and professionals have discovered:

Bad behavior can be a cry for connection. It seems a little backwards, to us as adults, but attitudes, whining, fits, and "NO!" meltdowns sometimes can be a kid version of "I feel lonely, left out, or confused" So here's my encouragement if you have a toddler or teen relationship that's had a little more friction lately: Connect before you correct. ***Note I said before. There still needs to be boundaries and consequences and training.... but step one is to connect with eyes and heart. This is not just a research method, this is a Jesus method! He started with people's heart, not people's sin. He looked in their eyes, He called them by name, He shared a meal, He connected in friendship and then corrected from there.

Here's my advice: Change the scenery and intentionally fill up your child's love tank.

Basically, take your child out of a date. No other siblings, no Instagram scrolling, no "squeezing in errands", no "Big talks"... just enjoy your child.

A few weeks ago, I felt some of this "behavior tension" with Oliver. He's been a CHAMP big brother, but 7 months of "Not now, Sweet Boy" and "Oliver, stop please" and "I'm sorry, Mama can't play, I need to help Eleanor" added up and I started seeing some behavior in him I wasn't use to. Sometimes you can chalk it up as a wonky day, maybe a day or poor nutrition (food really sways my kiddos mood). But after a full week of this, I knew something was up. My first action was... Oliver needs some connection time.


So we set up a Mama-Oliver day. Oliver's love language is picnics : It's a trio combination of all his favorites - quality time, food, and outside. So a park picnic day we ventured to.


I knew Jesus was with us when we scored the car shopping cart. Oliver's food requests : Berries, chocolate cake, hummus, cheese, and crackers. Very European of him now that I'm typing it out all together.

I said a sincere prayer to the Lord, asking for a fun moment and help to connect with sweet Oliver's heart. We went to the grocery store and loaded up on yummy treats and then found a park to play at for the day. I took a few pictures at the beginning and then put my phone away. We laughed, we ran, we slid, we had seconds and thirds of our berries, and we had a good handful of 30 second doses of total eye contact and "Oliver, Mama loves you." "Oliver, You are blessing to our family." "Oliver, Mama is here to help you feel safe" sprinkled throughout the afternoon.


"Higher!" This was my first time discovering the adult/child swing where you swing together and stare at each other. It was a blast, and wowzer I was sore from it.

I am fully telling the truth - the next day and weeks to follow, my sweet boy was back to himself. The "gripes and grumbles" were dissolved with chocolate cake and sunshine.


We don't do desserts much so this cake was truly my sign to Oliver that indeed, this was a super special day.

What can this look like for you? Can you set up time away to go shopping with your teen?

Perhaps, you could let your son stay up past bedtime with you and let him teach you how to play his favorite video game. Could you leave the dishes dirty for one night and play basketball outside after dinner?

Maybe you could pull off a picnic park day like us.


I want to remind you, it's much easier to correct if you've first connected. If you have a relationship, there is more respect both ways.

You have an amazing child. Love comes in different packages. Disciplining is love, correction is love, training is love, boundaries are love... but also time is love. Take some time this week to connect with your child and see how behavior shifts from there. Children Are A Blessing, Abby ***Don't forget... The Cirkles are cheering you on.

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