Managing a child’s behaviour is one of the greatest tasks involved with being a parent and it is an area where a lot of people may struggle. This is a common occurrence for many parents and there is no need to feel like you are failing if a child’s behaviour is or has become unruly. There are a number of steps which can be taken to manage these difficult behaviours, many of which can be achieved at home without the help of professional. In this article we are referring to pre-teenage children.
A child’s problematic behaviour can be evident both at school and in the home. This may be attributable to a wide range of factors such as issues at home, interactions with other children, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or learning difficulties. It may also be beneficial to seek help from teachers or school counsellors.
Much behaviour can be minimised by reflecting on and controlling the response to the behaviour, which will help to decrease the problem. This in turn teaches the child to monitor and adjust their behaviour. This ensures the child comprehends why their behaviour is a problem.
Here are some steps or parenting tips to take which may help:
1. Explain the Problem
Do not assume that your child “should know better”. Talking about behaviour is a crucial step in the behaviour management process. Children may not consider their behaviour or the consequences of that behaviour. Always describe the problem behaviour in a firm but non-confrontational tone/manner. Explain the impact of the behaviour so that the child will understand why there is a problem. It is extremely important that children learn that action have consequences.
Do Say – Kicking a football in the house will break something/hurt someone.
Don’t Say – Stop ruining the house.
2. Outline Appropriate Behaviour
Before reacting to behaviour, it is advisable to take a second to think about what the best response is. Calmly but firmly explain what behaviour you want your child to perform. Using specific language to describe what your child should and should not do. Stay firm and unemotional.
Do say – “Use a quiet voice inside the restaurant”.
Do not Say – “Behave” in an angry voice!
3. Show that you Believe in your Child
You should always reinforce your child’s positive behaviours when they occur. Positive reinforcement is fundamental to all aspects of a child’s development and letting them know they have done something correctly will not only instil your confidence in the child it will also increase the chances of this positive behaviour occurring, therefore becoming habit.
4. Motivate with Rewards
Incentivizing good behaviour is something that can be very effective in changing and shaping behaviours. A reward is a good way to encourage your child to achieve goals, which you have set down for them. Children are more likely behave well when they know it might result in something positive for them, in this case an occasional reward. That said, not every positive behaviour should be rewarded by prizes.
As an example, if a child keeps their bedroom tidy regularly you might at some stage reward that behaviour with a small prize. The ultimate goal of this is to teach your child to have self-discipline and use rewards as a discipline tool. Gold-star charts are a fun and interactive way to incentivise good behaviours.
5. Focus on one Aspect of Behavioural Change at a Time
If numerous behavioural problems are evident do not assume the task is too great. By tackling one behaviour at a time you can achieve gradual and realistic behavioural change. Start off with changes which bother you the most or those which are seen as considered the “most problematic”. Using tips like those already listed will help parents and will build confidence and trust between parent/s and child.
What if these Parenting Tips do not Work
Of course every parenting situation is different to the next and often suggestions such as those outlined may not apply or simply may not work. It is important to note that there are experts in this area of children’s behaviour who will be able to help. They can work with both the child and indeed parent/s to devise and advise what is the best course of action, and to rectify your child’s behavioural problems.
If you are looking for professional help for your child’s behaviour contact us for an appointment.