How to Make Your Kids Behave

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

You have a lot of competition when it comes to disciplining your kids. Social media sites, television shows, electronics, teachers, mental health experts, coaches, family members, even your child’s peers and their parents are all looming over your shoulder when you try to make your kids mind.

So how do you bypass all of the so-called experts and teach your child to behave? The art of loving, effective parenting is not extinct. It’s just more challenging than it used to be. Here are a few creative ways to teach your children about boundaries, expectations and plain common sense.

Because I Said So

There are certain actions between parent and child that are not negotiable. These non-negotiable rules are things such as buckling seat belts before the car leaves the driveway, wearing helmets when riding bikes, and wearing life jackets when on a boat. Life- saving precautions are not up for debate.

Acting Out in Public

Every parent’s nightmare is dealing with a kid who is having a tantrum or meltdown in a public place. A child who is screeching to get the candy, or sprawling out on the floor because you refused to buy a toy is embarrassing and exasperating. The best option when this occurs is to pick the child up, and make your way to the door. Don’t look back, just calmly leave the premises.

Trying to reason with a kid having a tantrum is like trying to herd cats. When you are both calm, talk about the episode, and let the child know how disappointed you are with his behavior. If he’s old enough, come up with a plan that will discourage the behavior. Using a small reward system is a positive tactic to try.

Charts and stickers work well with most kids. You can leave the chart in the car. Review the expected behavior before you leave home, and again when you reach your destination. If your child follows the rules in the store, let him put a sticker on his chart when you get back to the car. If he earns five stickers, let him choose an enjoyable activity, such as stopping at the park on the way home.

Disrespectful or Aggressive Behavior

Never accept disrespectful or aggressive behavior from your child. He must be taught alternate ways to handle his emotions. If your child is angry and displaying physical or verbal aggression, such as hitting or bullying a sibling, remove the victim immediately, and tell the aggressor to go to his room. If he refuses, your goal is to help him regain his composure. Take the victim by the hand, and quietly walk outside. Play a game of basketball, or sit in the swing together. If you remove yourselves from the scene, the misbehaving child will be getting no attention, which will lead to a calmer demeanor. Let him know that you will leave his presence any time he displays aggression.

These are only a few tips to handle some of the most prevalent behavior problems in children. Remember, always keep your cool and model the calm behavior you expect from your child. Positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior will help your child learn to do the right thing. Remind him that negative behaviors equal negative consequences. Most of all, be loving and consistent.

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