Teaching Children to Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Children may misbehave due to various reasons, which include attention-seeking, poor communication skills or stress. Teachers and parents can effectively help reactive children through guidance rather than punishment. Good guidance involves understanding why children misbehave, then showing them how to overcome their challenges positively, advises Dan Gartrell in National Association for the Education of Young Children. Some effective approaches to managing misbehavior include stress management, learning from mistakes, avoiding negative thinking and adaptation.

Stress Management

Teachers might have a challenging task of maintaining order in a classroom owing to the fact that every child is different in disposition. Children may become tired and stressed when they start to get overwhelmed with the amount of activities teachers assign them, according to Janet Kremenitzer and Regina Miller reporting in the National Association for the Education of Young Children. At this point, the teacher needs to introduce a different activity, preferably physical, to help children release their emotions productively.

Learning from Mistakes

Parents can make children learn a lot from mistakes. Nevertheless, the desire to make the child realize the seriousness of his misdeed may get some parents carried away to the extent that the punishment harms more than it educates. Instead of just punishing a child, it would be of more benefit to make him learn how not to repeat the mistake, notes Sharon Silver in Proactive Parenting 1. For instance, you can firmly, but lovingly, ask the child to go into her room and think of what she has done. She then should come up with a list of things she plans to do differently to avoid a repeat of the mistake, according to Silver.

Negative Thinking

Negative thinking can lower a child’s self-confidence and can make her hopeless when faced with a new situation, notes Cindy Jett, LICSW, in Counseling Resource. Parents can teach children to be proactive through positive thinking 1. For instance, a child going to a new school may doubt if they will make any friends and make excuses for it. In such a case, help the child to focus on the positive. Remind him of his good qualities that would naturally draw new friends.


Changes are all part of life and children will have new experiences from time to time. Unfortunately, some changes may have a debilitating effect on a young person’s emotional health. Parents may move to a new neighborhood and have to enroll their child in a new school. A child who does not have the capacity to adapt to changes may become anxious or depressed in such situations, according to Cindy Jett reporting in PsychCentral 3. Parents can point out new possibilities the change may have brought into the child’s life to make her think positively, advices Jett.