Children of all ages experience challenging behaviors as they navigate through the ages and stages of childhood. As a parent, it can be frustrating guiding children through transitional periods. Listed below are tips to help your child through challenging behaviors as well as help parents establish age-appropriate rules and expectations.
1. Create household rules with your child and display them at his/her level. When your child breaks the rule refer your child back to the rule wall as a reminder. “Julia, rule number one says “walk your feet”. “Can you show me how to walk your feet?” You may have to remind your child several times of the household rule. It is important to remember that children need several patient reminders to help mold their sense of self. Just because your child “breaks” a rule does not mean he/she is “purposely” disobeying. Your child truly might not remember they are breaking a rule or going against your expectations.
• Walk your feet
• Keep your feet on the floor
• Clean up your toys when you are finished
• Soft touches with your sister
2. Give your child warnings for transitions. Giving children time to finish a project and prepare for the next activity can help reduce power struggles. “Julia, we are going to clean up for lunch in 5 minutes.” Avoid using the word “okay” at the end of a request. By using the word “okay” you are asking them permission. You will need to be prepared that they might say no to your request if you are asking them. “Julia, it’s time to clean up now okay?” “Julia it’s time to clean up” “Are you ready to take a bath?” “It’s time to take your bath now.” Keep your request short and to the point. Children have a hard time processing requests when there is too much information given.
3. It is very important to be consistent in your responses to your child when they break a rule. Your child should know your expectation as well as what your response will be if they do not follow a rule. This helps children build trust as well as develop a strong sense of self.
4. An empty threat diminishes your authority. Children learn very quickly not to listen to empty threats. Do not make a threat unless you plan to follow through. “We are going to leave if you don’t behave.” “You will not have a birthday party if you don’t listen.”
5. It is important to tell your child what you want, not what you don’t want. You will find your child is able to listen and understand better when you tell them what you want from them.
“Walk your feet” vs. “Stop running”
“Sit down when you are eating” vs. “Stop walking around with food”
“Please use your inside voice” vs. “Stop yelling inside”