Kids driving you crazy? A coping technique

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Are you children driving you up the wall? Irem Bray shares some tips that might just change your life.

When did you last exclaim, “These kids are driving me crazy!”?

Every parent deserves living in happiness and harmony. When parents equip themselves with the right skills and apply them in their lives the children respond. We admire these kids’ confidence, success and caring attitude. Many parents lack the skills and knowledge that makes a difference.

In my work as an online family therapist I came across so much suffering that I decided to create online courses to reach more families. I want to share a very important technique from my course which will rapidly affect your family life.


One of the major components of my courses, both online and offline, is the premise that focusing and giving your child accurate feedback about their behaviour will help problems to disappear.

The rule of thumb is 3 to 1; every criticism should be balanced with 3 compliments.

Many parents find this difficult to believe. Even though their day to day experiences show the opposite, they still think that solely criticizing the problem behaviours, telling the kids off, shouting, hitting or other sorts of punishments are the only ways to bring up children.I would like to share a quote that inspired me. It’s from Leo Buscaglia, who was an author, motivational speaker, and a professor:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Negative cycle

Have you fallen in a negative cycle with your kids? Small changes can make so much difference for children! Think about your relationship with them during the last couple of days. Reflect on your feelings of irritation as well as joy and happiness. You may have felt bothered by their fearfulness, junk food consumption, choice of spending long hours in front of a screen, or relaxed attitude towards their school work…

Parents tend to have a list of expectations they want children to live up to. When they do not, some feel overwhelmed as they attempt to impose upon their kids what they believe is right and good for them. This can go disastrously wrong. When tempers are lost, children may be over chastised, or even unintentionally injured.

The positives

Are there things your children have done recently that you have enjoyed? Perhaps they helped carry the shopping, or that they came home as soon as you called when they were playing with their friends outside? Maybe they finished their plate at the dinner table and said, “Thank you”?

See if you can remember what you like about your kids, and how their presence adds to daily family life. How often do you take for granted your children’s good behaviour? I hear many parents deliberately avoid giving compliments to children. They think good behaviour is what the kids should do anyway, and so encouraging them only spoils and weakens, youngsters. How wrong they are!

What about your irritation? Did it come out as a stern look, a disappointed tone of voice, or an authoritarian order, or even a slap on the face?

The technique

My technique requires you to focus on your feelings and to interact with your children with awareness.

This technique encourages you to compliment sincerely your children’s good behaviour whilst selecting and delivering your criticism with thought and consideration. You take care of balancing each criticism with three compliments.

Children most of the time understand what you believe to be right, and what you will never approve of. If you think they do not know, you must tell them. Even when they know the rules and expectations, we can from remind them and elaborate them as our children get older.

In order not to overload children with criticism, which would lead to a possible loss of confidence, or perhaps more behavioural problems, we focus on just the really important subjects.

Getting started

The best time to help children behave better is when you have them away from friends, or other people who they are trying to impress. Choose a private time and explain clearly why you expect them to act differently in the future.

Experiment with this technique for one week. Your children will show signs of curiosity, and may even think you’re behaving oddly.

Experiment another week, they will be calmer and more confident.

If you continue with your experiment on the third week you will start hearing other people commenting on your children’s good behaviour and note both you and the children seem happier and more relaxed. They might even ask your secret.

Irem Bray is a consultant psychologist with an M. Sc. in Family Therapy from London University. She is one of the forerunners of on-line face-to-face family and family business counselling. Individuals, couples, families and family businesses consult her to overcome their difficulties. She speaks fluent English and Turkish.

Visit for more articles and for her full biography, or for your free 15 minutes interview before making an appointment.



Mother of three wonderful girls aged 16, 7 and 6.
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  • Sarah Arrow

    Lovely article Irem, I will praise more good behaviour. I dont think I do that enough