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Okay, so you have a child who is always acting up. Yeah, I had one of those too. He’s since mellowed out, thankfully. Child behavior problems aren’t rare and many parents are struggling with them. So what to do when your child is misbehaving all the time?
I know the title seems a little “too good to be true.” And, in a sense, it is, ONLY because it takes consistency. I’ll tell you what I mean. First of all, often bad behavior in children stems from the parent’s behavior and all it takes is for you to tweak your behavior just a little and you’ll see a change in your child.
So, you can spend a week implementing what you’re about to learn here and see a transformation in your child. But, if you stop following these tips after a week and go back to what you were doing before, things are going to get all crazy again.
Now, I’m not saying what you’re doing is wrong or you’re a bad parent or anything like that. How the heck would I know right? I’m just speaking from experience and what I’ve seen in many families (including mine). The parents have had it, they go in disciple “boot camp” mode, they put their foot down and within a few days, they can’t seem to stick with it. Then the bad behavior starts all over again.
Sound familiar? I’m assuming yes if you’re reading this. Okay, well let me get to the tips on how to change your child’s bad behavior in a week.
1. Change your Reaction
This is pretty much what I was talking about above. A common mistake a lot of parents make is in how they react to their child’s misbehavior. Usually, their reaction is out of impulse to get the behavior under control. You get upset at your child and maybe scream at them. You possibly put them in time out. The problem with this is the negative attention your child’s getting from you at that moment (i.e. screaming) is better than no attention at all.
So, instead of feeding your child exactly what they’re looking for (attention), act like you don’t even notice how they’re acting. Sure, it’s going to be really hard to ignore a temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store. But, by doing so, it’s going to pay off. Once they see that their tantrum isn’t getting them anywhere or you don’t even seem to notice, they’ll eventually stop throwing them.
Trust me, they will stop eventually and if you do this consistently, they’ll learn that they won’t get anywhere with this behavior and will stop acting this way.
2. Avoid Reactive Discipline
Turning your child’s bad behavior goes much deeper than your actions during their misbehavior. If you’re like most parents, you probably have some type of punishment to correct their behavior. Punishment can be thought of as reactive discipline. And you’re usually struggling to decide on the right punishment at that moment.
Now, while you do need to address your child’s misbehavior and discipline them, you might want to turn it into a teachable moment as well. Instead of reacting quickly by blaming, barking out commands and thinking you can punish your child into better behavior, try proactive discipline instead.
Explain to them there are rules put in place for their safety and consequences if they don’t follow them. Have them tell you what negative or unsafe consequence they think their behavior could lead to. And ensure they understand you disciplining them (maybe it is for them to sit in their room for a while and think about their actions) is to keep them safe and help them develop into a more self-controlled and resilient person.
Proactive discipline is where you use discipline as a way of teaching. For instance, instead of pointing at their bedroom and yelling at them to get in there, ensure they know the consequences of bad behavior beforehand and when they act up
3. Praise Good Behavior
Along with proactive discipline, you also need to give them encouragement and positive attention regularly. Yelling, punishing without teaching, spanking and other reactions from you will only cause them to rebel and misbehave even mood.
But, when you give attention to good behavior, they’ll want more of that attention. Take notice when your child is doing something positive and let them know you appreciate it and you’re happy to see them displaying good behavior.
A great way to praise good behavior is spending some quality fun time with your child. Here’s a post of mine that shows you different fun ways to spend time with your kids. Check it out for some ideas. What to Do With the Kids – 13 Fun Ideas to Sneak in Some Bonding Time
4. Offer to Help
If your child acts in a way you disapprove, offer ways to help them understand how to fix their mistake. For example, if you told your child to clean their room and they haven’t, don’t do it for them just to spare an argument. Instead, offer them some advice on how to make it easier to clean their room or ways to stay more organized. This is a “teachable” moment and will help your child realize they are quite capable of fixing their mistake and are expected to.
5. Don’t Threaten and Be Realistic
Threatening your child will get you nowhere fast. Can you remember telling your child that the next time they act like this, you’ll ground them forever? Or, you’ll take away their television for a year. Threats like this don’t work, because your child will very quickly see you don’t follow through with them. What you can do, however, is set a realistic consequence like no TV for a few days or grounding them for a week and follow through if they repeat their behavior again.
6. Don’t Spank
Not only can spanking your child get you into trouble these days, it has also shown to increase bad behavior. According to Psychological Science, kids whose parents spanked them at age five ended up showing more behavior issues by the time they were six and also by eight years old when compared with kids whose parents never spanked them.
Instead of saying “don’t” or “no” all the time, redirect your child when they’re doing something wrong. When a child hears these terms enough, they’ll eventually tune them out. Therefore, rather than telling your child NOT to do something, redirect their attention to something more positive. For example, if your child is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, hand them your shopping list and pen and tell them they’re in charge of crossing each item off as you put it in the cart.
8. Be Consistent
This goes along with following through with what you say you’re going to do. You first need to be very clear about your expectations and what the rules are about misbehaving. Then follow through with the consequence if your child breaks a rule. But, here’s where many parents go wrong — they aren’t consistent.
They’re calm one day or like in number 1 above, don’t acknowledge a tantrum, but the next day when their child has another tantrum, instead of being calm and “not acknowledging” the behavior, they scream at their child. Being consistent is how you’re going to change your child’s bad behavior not just in one week, but for good.
9. Create a Behavior Chart
A great way to redirect your child from bad behavior is to reward good behavior. And, this can be done through a behavior chart. You can create or download a behavior chart where, for example, you list the days of the week and attach some good behavior actions to each day. Then each day they practice those positive behaviors, they get a point for each one of them that day.
Have some type of reward for a certain number of points. At the end of each week, you tally up the points. For instance, if your child gets 10 points by the end of the week, they are rewarded with a fun day at the park or money even. Five points will get them something smaller.
So, in the printable below, you’d fill out the activity section for the week with one or more positive actions your child can take and reward a point for each action. Have them practice the same actions each day so they become a habit.
Each day, if your child performed the actions, you’d mark down the points earned in the box of each day of the week. At the end of the week, you’d tally up the points and mark them in the total points box.
Don’t fill up the chart with difficult tasks you want done. Make sure each week is filled with easy tasks for each day. You can offer extra points for harder tasks, but only include a couple of those in the chart so you don’t overwhelm your child or set them up for failure.
Changing your child’s bad behavior starts with changing your reaction to it, following through with what you say you’re going to do and being consistent. With regular positive reinforcement and proactive discipline, you can turn things around and have a well-behaved child other parents get envious over.
You can also:
Click on the Image to Grab this Free “Good Behavior Chart” Printable