Kids will be kids!
And the notion of a perfectly behaved child — for most parents — is unrealistic.
But if your child’s behaviour 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 behaviour 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 reprioritise 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)…
Lend itself to a ‘good cop, bad cop’ mentality (which can lead to more behavioural problems)…
And can make your kids question your reliability.
A great way to ensure consistency?…
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 to talk openly, honestly and often with your kids.
And the fact that it will encourage better behaviour from them is just a bonus.
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 behaviours.
Now, when it comes to encouraging good behaviour…
5. Avoid rewards.
By offering rewards for good behaviour, 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’ behaviour…
Just like rewards focus on short term results — to the detriment of future behaviours — so does punishment.
Parenting expert Elain Wilson suggests that punishment is based on control and power by using pain or unpleasantness to stop the behaviour (in the present)…
But it does not teach the value of the desired behaviour.
While punishment may get immediate results, it can also make kids fearful, and encourage sneaky behaviour.
‘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 behaviour…
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!
7. 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.
And remember that learning disorders are not always picked up in the classroom.
Read separately, these six tips may seem like they present a huge overhaul to your parenting style, or to the general running of your household.
But pay attention to how they all actually compliment each other and work in support of each other…
By developing a routine, you make expectations clear and implicitly consistent.
By incorporating consistent and clear discipline into your routine, you can avoid resorting to using punishments and rewards.
By making time to really converse and communicate with your child, your expectations and values will be made much clearer to them, and any external factors affecting their behaviour will be made more clear to you.
While these tips are beneficial for any family, sometimes behaviour management can feel like it’s beyond your control.
And if you are in Melbourne and would like some some extra help with this issue?
Click the button below to book your initial parent consultation and get the right advice for your child’s needs.