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.
How to improve the behavior of your kids.
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 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 playtime, 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…
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)…
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.
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 behavior from them is just a bonus.
Easily add”communication time” to your routine by making no screen 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.
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.
Be careful with punishments.
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 a routine!
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.
But pay attention to how they all actually compliment each other and work in support of each other…
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