How to Manage Your Child’s Behavior

CME WebsitesBehavior, Discipline

The most important keys to successful behavior management are consistency and repetition.

Stick to whatever rules you make all the time. Know that the rules will need to be repeated again and again for them to work.

The best way to teach behavior is to use lots of rewards. For every problem behavior, there is a good behavior to take its place. Give rewards after good behavior so your child will want to do the good behavior, instead of the bad. Your child should make the connection between the good behavior and the rewards.

Make sure you do not accidentally reward the problem behaviors. For example, if your child throws a tantrum to get attention, don’t give him/her attention. Otherwise, he/she will make the connection between the problem behavior and a reward.

Your child will cooperate with the rules when there is an overall positive relationship where he/she feels valued and loved. This is another reason that it is very helpful to use lots of rewards when managing behavior. Remember the ’10 to 1′ rule: for every negative comment or correction, there should be at least ten positive comments.

Make sure your child understands what is going on. Give instructions and provide rewards, so he/she knows what is expected and why he/she is being rewarded or why he/she is not rewarded.

Set things up to succeed. Do everything you can think of, to make it least likely that the problem behavior can happen. For example, if your child is throwing rocks through the window, get rid of the rocks!

Get organized. Start with a simple plan that is easy to do, and stick to it. Keep a written record of progress so you know what works and what doesn’t. If something isn’t working, try to figure out why and try a new plan based on what you have learned.

Here is a compiled list of proven strategies you can use to help your child learn how to behave:

What Doesn’t Work:

  • Yelling
  • Scolding
  • Lecturing
  • Threatening
  • Bribing
  • Spanking
  • Name calling
  • Criticizing
  • Sending your child to bed

What Does Work:

  • Ignore. If your child is having a temper tantrum, calmly leave the room and ignore him/her. (You can ignore interrupting, nagging, silly questions, siblings bickering, whining, stuttering, I hate you statements. Never ignore if your child is hurting someone else or themselves or breaking something on purpose.)
  • Change the situation. If your children are fighting, have them stop playing together until they can calm down and play nicely.
  • Change the environment. Your toddler keeps playing with your cell phone, so do not leave it out where he/she can reach it.
  • Say what you want. Tell your child want you want him/her to do instead of what you do not want him/her to do. Say, Remember, we must walk inside. instead of saying, Do not run!
  • Distract. There is only one red ball. Your child and his cousin both want the red ball. Pick up your child and have him help you feed the fish.
  • Take away a privilege.  Your older child teases your younger child. Tell the older he cannot stay up and watch his favorite TV show.
  • Positive feedback.  Your child cleans up his/her toys before you ask. Remember to give a hug and a thank you.
  • If-then. If you clean up your room, then we can go to the park.
  • Prevent.  If your child always wants to walk around in the restaurant, tell him before you enter that he must sit in his seat. Reward your child for his good behavior.
  • Accept Tolerate.  Its a warm day in July and your child puts on his winter boots. You think it looks crazy, but you let her wear them.
  • Catch them being good.  Your child repeatedly leaves his books on the floor. He puts them back on the bookcase without you asking him. Tell him, You put away your books all by yourself. That’s great! Look for other times you can catch your child behaving the way you want him to and then provide praise.
  • Active listening. Your child tells you, Josh isn’t my friend anymore. I hate him! You respond, It sounds like Josh made you mad. Why do you feel this way?
  • Charts and stars. Give your child a visual reminder of every time he or she does something right. For example, focus on one problem. Lets say your daughter never cleans up her toys. Give her a star for every day she cleans up. After three stars on her chart, she would get a reward.