This past week, our sweet Bodie has been pushing his boundaries. He seems to be in this weird limbo area. Bodie knows how he is supposed to act but doesn't want to oblige, so he throws more frequent and intense tantrums. Essentially, he is trying to prove he is still in control regarding his attitude. Due to this, I decided to do a 3-Day Boot Camp to get a proper attitude adjustment.
I wanted to show transparency that I use the boot camps, and while they aren't always pleasant, they do work. Follow along for our three-day journey!
Completing Our Prep Work
When deciding how to fix the tantrums, I made sure to do all of my prep work before starting. I focused on the excessive tantrums and yelling. Bodie is the type of person who values attention, and while I know it isn't recommended to isolate children when they are processing their feelings, I did choose to do a reset for my consequence. Knowing Bodie's personality, a reset (a time-out, we just adopted a new word) is the most likely consequence of getting his attention.
I decided that the verbiage I would use would be self-control and respect. These are the two character traits that I want to instill into Bodie's personality. I also chose a start date when my husband would be traveling for work. Bodie will have to work some things out, and working through them is not pretty. Knowing that I am doing the boot camp will help me deal with his reactions. My husband might view the process differently, so we should begin when Bodie and I can focus without distractions.
Now that I've completed all of my prep work, it's time to begin. I'll walk you through the three days we used to correct the bad behavior.
Day 1 – Correction Day
Day 1 of our boot camp focuses on correcting bad behavior. Make sure you had a lot of rest the night before because this day can be a doozy! At the first sign of bad behavior, I explained to Bodie, “We can not yell at mommy like that; we need to show respect.” I then calmly took him to his room. Was Bodie calm? No, no, he was not. It is vital that we, as adults remain calm. I kept telling him that he needed to have a reset until he could respect Mommy.
Once in his room, Bodie came unglued. He was yelling and crying and throwing stuffed animals. Bodie would scream until his throat was raw. For the most part, I left him alone because when we were going to his room, I explained the expectations he would have to meet for me to come back and get him. Essentially, I told Bodie that he had to calm down and have self-control, and then mommy would come and speak with him. All of the aggression and yelling is him trying to see if mommy will stick to her guns. Stick to my guns; I did!
This Too Shall Pass – Breathe
The first time Bodie calmed down, about 20 minutes in, he came out of his room on his own and asked if he could play. I calmly but firmly told him no; he would need to be in his room until mommy came to get him. Enter round two of him losing control! I took him back into his room, where he amped up all of the tantrum details that he had previously used. But that's ok. This is what Day 1 is all about.
After around 45 minutes of being in his room, he finally calmed himself down. He lay in bed and just stared up at the ceiling. You could tell that his little body was exhausted from all of the anger. I decided to leave him there for a bit since he was calm and more than likely processing what had occurred. He got out of bed, turned his bedroom light off, and covered up in bed.
Trust the Process
Bodie slept for about 30 minutes at 9:00 in the morning. This is not his typical nap time, but I could tell that he needed it. When he woke up, I talked with him about what had happened. He, like always, was very apologetic. I used my predetermined verbiage of respect and self-control when we spoke.
For the rest of the day, Bodie was sent to his room 3 more times. I focused on reacting to him calmly and using my character trait vocabulary each time. Each time his initial freak out about being sent for a reset got shorter, but the intensity was still there.
At the end of Day 1, I gave him extra snuggles while discussing our day. I asked him questions about how mommy can help him be respectful and have self-control. I told him how mommy felt when he lost control. Then we prayed for each other.
We got some much-needed rest that night and prepared our hearts and minds for Day 2!
Day 2 – Communication Day
In this boot camp, Day 2 focuses on communicating with your child. While you still want to correct your child's behavior, on Day 2, you start to incorporate a warning. When Bodie would begin to test his boundaries, I would tell him, “Remember, if we can't show respect to mommy, then we will have to have a reset.” My goal is to remind him of all we worked on yesterday and try to pull him out of the hole he is digging.
Start on the Right Foot
We always start our day going over what our expectations are. During a boot camp, I make sure he knows that mommy isn't done focusing on correcting his bad behavior. Ideally, this helps him see that he is still on a short leash and helps him not be taken off guard when I am still standing firm.
Our Day 2 fell on a school day for Bodie. He is in preschool and attends 5 hours, two days a week. The morning of Day 2 was great. No issues. He was also very good at school, which is typical for him. When I picked him up from school, he definitely had an attitude. After school, the initial tantrum was only about 5 minutes when he was sent to his room. Afterward, we snuggled and talked about what had happened.
Consistency over Perfection
Remember, communication is key! Let your child know what is going on and your expectations for them. Day 2 is a big day for your child to process their feelings, knowing that you are there with them. It would be best to remain consistent with your child and not expect them to be perfect. Bodie had soccer practice the night of Day 2, and it was awful! So so so many tears. After all, Day 1 was quite the shock to him, and Bodie is still adjusting to Mommy being the team's coach, not just his.
We survived Day 2 and got lots of needed rest that night. Moving on, we get to implement our favorite day – Praise and Reward Day!
Day 3 – Praise and Reward Day
Day 3 is a much-needed day focusing on praising and rewarding your child. They have had a tough couple of days, so today will seem like a treat! You still need to be firm with your child, but now they should respond to their one warning and understand the character traits you've been referencing. It is critical to spend as much time with your child as possible on Day 3. You want to praise and reward them as soon as they exhibit good behavior.
Our day 3 started with Bodie lashing out on our way to take Declan to school. He then asked if we could go to the donut store. That is a hard no, sir. I explained that he didn't earn it with his bad behavior on the way to school. I made sure he knew that he needed to show self-control and respect to get any reward.
Once we get home, I ask Bodie to play while I get the house back in order. The first two days of the boot camp required a lot of attention, so I was a little behind on my other responsibilities. He played well, and I rewarded him with a walk around the neighborhood. He asked to take his bug catcher and tweezers, and I, of course, said yes.
Praise in the Present
At the beginning of our walk, I noticed that I hadn't shut the garage door. I told Bodie that I needed him to stay right there while I went back to close it. When I was done, I praised him for obeying my orders. Actually, I was praising him on my way back – because there is no better time than the present to acknowledge your kids for good behavior! We had quite the bug-catching adventure!
As we finished our walk, I praised Bodie for being so strong and finishing all by himself! When we got home, Bodie asked if we could paint some rocks. I let him know that since his behavior had been good, we could, but I needed to go in and gather our art supplies before we could start. We made a plan for him to use the restroom while I prepared. He was very patient and respectful while I got it all together. He even helped me take everything outside.
We had a blast painting rocks!
Helpful Hack: When done, Bodie asked if we would be able to paint rocks some other time. His question prompted me to store the materials I had gathered in one bucket. By taking this organizational step, I have simplified the process for rock painting in the future. It's a win-win!
Praise and Reward ALL Day
Our day continued with me praising good behavior and treating our together time as a reward. It is not necessary to have a tangible item as a reward. Your kids want to spend time with you. Quality time is all the reward that they need! For instance, Bodie helped me pick up, so I let him pick what he wanted for lunch. That is his reward.
Also, do not feel that you can only praise the character traits you chose for the boot camp. Praise every good behavior! You want your child to recognize how their behavior can dramatically change the outcome of their day!
In conclusion, I highly recommend a 3- Day Boot Camp for Correcting Bad Behavior. Day 1 is hard for both of you. Day 2 can be rough, but you are training your child to display the behaviors you want them to. Day 3 is a reward for both of your hard work! Feel free to try a boot camp for yourself. Please leave me any questions or comments that you have! I hope you have enjoyed following along with Bodie and me as we correct bad behavior!