Behavior Management Tips for Every Parent
One of the biggest challenge’s parents face is managing difficult or defiant behavior on the part of children. Whether they’re refusing to put on their shoes, or throwing full-blown tantrums, you can find yourself at a loss for an effective way to respond.
For parents at their wits end, behavioral therapy techniques can provide a roadmap to calmer, more consistent ways to manage problem behaviors problems and offers a chance to help children develop gain the developmental skills they need to regulate their own behaviors.
Kids will be kids!
And the notion of a perfectly behaved child - for most parents - is unrealistic. But if your child’s behavior is making things difficult for you or your family… You may want to consider implementing some changes. And the best place to start is at home. There are many reasons a child may misbehave (which we’ll get to further on in this post), but for a start - start small.
Below are some easy ways you can try to regain some ‘law and order’ in your household and improve the behavior of your kids.
1. Make expectations explicitly clear
Parents may feel like they shouldn’t have to explain themselves to their kids…But they absolutely do! If kids don’t understand the how, what and why’s of what’s expected of them…How can they be expected to follow through? It doesn’t have to be complicated, just simple, clear directions like:
You need to do your homework straight afternoon tea, so you’ll be free for family time by dinner’, or, ‘I want you to have a shower right after play time, so you don’t bring dirt through the house’. Clear expectations mean less questioning, which is good for the kids, and great for parents!
And in that vein…
2. Be CONSISTENT
While adults are expected to adapt and reprioritize throughout the day, it’s not realistic to expect kids to do the same. They’ll struggle with the mixed messages and be more likely to question why they’re expected to do things. Plus, consistency helps kids to feel secure and confident, in their surroundings, and in themselves.
That’s why it’s also incredibly important when it comes to separated parents and co-parents. Inconsistency between each parent can cause conflict (between the parents and the kids) …
3. Routine, routine, routine!
A solid family routine lends itself to a happy and functional household.
It helps to solidify expectations, and make sure that kids meet them on a daily basis. It also helps kids to feel safe in the reliability and security of home life - something that they may not have at school. And a routine makes it easier for parents to follow through with the own rules that they’ve set for themselves and for the rest of the family. A routine doesn’t have to be oppressive.
Start by framing yours around things that happen every day already: Dinner time, homework, chores - try to schedule them in for the same time every day, and then shape new additions to your routine around them. One of the best things you can add to your routine.
It may seem obvious, but busy schedules and digital communications have gotten in the way of real, personal conversations.
It’s so important talk openly, honestly and often with your kids. And the fact that it will encourage better behavior from them is just a bonus.
5. Easily add “communication time” to your routine by making no “screen no time zones”, during meals or car trips
By talking to them, they’ll have more faith in your judgment…
Greater respect and understanding for your decisions…And, importantly, you’ll get more insight into the root of their behaviors. Now, when it comes to encouraging good behavior…
6. Avoid Rewards
By offering rewards for good behavior, you’re sending a very clear message to your child:’ This is not something I expect you to do on your own’. Rewards are appropriate for certain tasks or chores, especially the less common or frequent ones. But kids shouldn’t be rewarded for behaving well or for everyday tasks.
These are things they are expected to do, that they should ideally want to do, and that they will need to continue doing on their own accord in the future. And when it comes to ‘bad’ behavioural…
7. Be careful with punishment
Just like rewards focus on short term results - to the detriment of future behaviors - so does punishment. Parenting expert Elain Wilson suggests that punishment is based on control and power by using pain or unpleasantness to stop the behavior (in the present) …
But it does not teach the value of the desired behavior. While punishment may get immediate results, it can also make kids fearful, and encourage sneaky behavior. ‘Punishment uses pain and unpleasantness, builds resentment, encourages deception and can damage self-esteem,’ explains our senior psychologist Deb Jepsen.
Avoiding punishments doesn’t mean kids get should get off scot-free for bad behavior…But rather, parents should take the old adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’, and work on replacing punishment with discipline… The exact kind of discipline that comes with routine!
And finally, …
8. Know the symptoms and signs of a potential cause
Kids can act out at home because of other problems…
By talking with your kids often, you’ll be much more likely to pick up on social problems or other emotional challenges they may be dealing with.
So be aware of the warning signs of anxiety and depression…