Preventing misbehavior is much easier than correcting or dealing with the consequences of the behavior afterward. Children are not hardwired to understand what acceptable behavior looks like, so it is up to parents to not only implement rules, but to model what good behavior looks like. By taking certain steps, parents may find that it is much easier to get kids to behave.
Making Behavioral Expectations Reasonable
It is of the utmost importance that rules be consistent and reasonable. If rules are inconsistent or too much is expected, children may give up on trying to adhere to the standards. Expecting children to sit quietly is not a reasonable expectation. Children need plenty of stimulation and activity to direct their attention and energy towards in order to maintain health and well being. Children that are not allowed to burn off energy in constructive ways are more apt to act out.
Anticipating Problems Ahead of Time
Anticipating problems ahead of time can help parents to avoid embarrassing tantrums and acts of misbehavior. Two of the main reasons that children act out are because they are tired and because they are hungry. By planning ahead when visiting friends or relatives or going on outings, parents can head off these issues before children begin to misbehave. Children may be uncomfortable with napping at someone else’s house or in a stroller at a theme park, so parents should be sneaky when necessary. Telling Junior to watch television in the guest room at a friend’s house or sitting with him for a break in the car while during a park day can allow Junior to get the rest he needs without a fight.
Encourage, Rather Than Discourage Behavior
No one likes to be told that they are doing things wrong, whether adult or child. Nearly any type of constructive criticism can be given with a positive spin, though. Avoiding the words “Don’t,” “No,” and other negatives can help parents to more easily avoid “lectures” that children are likely to ignore, especially when children are being taught new skills. Instead of saying “Don’t wash the dishes that way,” parents can say “Great job! Now let me show you how I do it to get that pesky spot off.”