Being a parent means you expect to deal with behavior problems from time to time. Every child is prone to behavioral issues that you will find challenging and annoying, and you will desperately want to change those behaviors. If you think that your child’s behavior issues are par for the course, you are right. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot help your child change his behavior for the better.
Focus on One or Two Behavioral Issues at a Time
The easiest way to help your child change her negative behaviors is to focus on only one or two at a time, even if there are additional behaviors you’d like to see improved, advises Kyla Boyse, an RN at the University of Michigan Health System. If there are a number of behaviors you want to help your child change, focus on beginning with the behaviors that are most dangerous or most important to you. Make sure your child is perfectly aware of the rules and the consequences that go along with them. This means making the rules as clear as possible, especially in regards to the behaviors you are trying to help her change at the time.
Enforce Natural and Logical Consequences
Natural consequences, according to KidsHealth, are those that naturally result from a behavior. If you want to change your child's defiant ways, allow him to learn the consequences himself. If you warn him repeatedly to stop dangling his spaghetti in the air over his head at dinner because it’s going to get all over his favorite shirt, let him learn the hard way. The natural consequence for his behavior is spaghetti falling all over him and ruining his favorite shirt, which he can't wear until it gets washed. If your child will not stop running into the street when playing outside, however, you will have to choose a logical consequence rather than a natural one, since the natural consequence for this type of defiance is being hit by a car. Instead, enforce a logical consequence such as having to go inside if he doesn’t listen. According to KidsHealth, children learn to behave when they learn for themselves.
Promote Positive Behavior
According to University of Michigan Health System RN Kyla Boyse, positive reinforcement is an effective way to help change your child’s behavior. When she behaves well, does something right or makes a positive decision, make a big deal out of it. Kids like attention, which means they will continue to behave in a manner that gets them the attention they want. By recognizing her positive behavior, you are encouraging her to continue to behave well.
Ignore Bad Behavior
Don't ignore bad behavior that is dangerous or hurtful; rather, ignore bad behavior that you want to change as long as it is not hurting anyone, advises Familydoctor.org. If your child is whiny on a regular basis, ignore this behavior. If he’s a whiny child, it’s likely because he’s learned that incessant complaining helps him to get his way. By ignoring his whining, he will likely begin to understand that this behavior gets him nowhere, but that asking nicely for things does.