Having some issues with difficult behaviour at your house? Those behaviour management strategies that worked so well on your toddler are now not having the same effect. As children grow and learn, so too must the strategies we use to deal with difficult behaviour. Try some of these tried-and-tested techniques.
Talk to them, not at them
Look your child in the eyes and talk with them at their level, especially when you’re talking about something serious. Resist the urge to lecture when you encounter some challenging behaviour. Instead, give your child time to respond and listen to their points of view. They may not always be right, but they still deserve a chance to be heard. Just like you.
Give clear choices
Arguments can occur when adults don’t offer simple choices and instructions. If you ask, “do you want to have a shower now?” you’re giving your child the option to say no. If there is no choice state, “can you get a shower now, please?” If your child doesn’t respond well to instruction, offer them a choice between two options that you’re okay with, such as: “Do you want to have a shower now or after dinner?” That way your child feels like they are part of the decision-making process, and you get them to do what you need them to do.
Use consequences rather than punishments
Sometimes a rest in their room is the perfect way to give your child some space to chill out. But using punishments that have nothing to do with the “crime” can send mixed messages to your child. For instance, if they break their gaming console, you might send them to their room. This is fine, but what is it really teaching them? Instead, let them see the consequences of their actions. If they broke the gaming console, it means they can no longer play their favourite game. If the console needs to be replaced, have them complete jobs around the house to save up money to buy it themselves.
If they throw food on the floor, have them clean it up. If they hit someone in the middle of a game, they miss out on playing the rest of the game.
Catch them being good
Don’t just focus on the negative behaviour. Use specific praise when your child is doing something nice and helpful, such as: “I love the way you set the table for dinner without me having to ask.” If you only ever focus on the inappropriate behaviour, some children will act out for the attention.
Difficult behaviour can be a challenge to manage at home. But with some simple and positive strategies, you can bring peace back to the household in no time.