Your Child's Behaviour
Learning how to manage children's behaviour is one of the hardest tasks for parents.
Remember that its okay if you don't know how to handle every situation. Every parent feels that way sometimes. You have to learn how to be a parent.
Remember: nobody's perfect.
Teaching Good Behaviour
First, be realistic. Your child isn't going to get it right the first time you teach him (or her) something.
What Can I Expect From My Child?
Children behave differently as they get older. For example, children under three are too young to follow most rules.
From Birth To one Year:
Babies can't understand or follow any rules. They only know what they feel.
One To Two Years:
Children at this age start to understand some words and simple directions. For example, if you ask your toddler to help you put toys in a box, he can follow what you're doing. He may not want to follow you, however, because a toddlers favourite word is No!
Be patient. You will probably have to tell and show your child the same thing over and over.
Two To Three Years:
Toddlers at this age are better at talking and listening. They can understand some of what you say, but they still need a lot of help following directions. For example, you can say it's time to get dressed now. Lets put on your socks.
Your child will need help putting socks on, but he can help pull them up. Children are too young at this age to share or play fair without your help.
At about 2-1/2 years, it's normal for children to become bossy and moody. At this age, they often find it hard to fit into a group and may not be able to co-operate with other children.
Three To Five Years:
Children's behaviour changes a lot in these years. They may be calm and co-operate with you sometimes and, other times, they may not want to do what you want.
Your child is getting close to school age and may be able to follow simple rules. For example, when you say We're leaving now. Its time to get your coat, your child will be able to bring the coat to you.
Children start to care about people's feelings at this age. They need you to tell them what is right and wrong.
When your child does something wrong, tell him it was wrong and why. Be patient. Try to help them think of a better way to do things.
For example, if your daughter starts hitting her brother, explain hitting Michael hurts him. Then ask her to tell her brother why she is angry. This teaches children to use words instead of their fists when they are angry.
Here Are Some Ways You Can Help Your Child Behave:
Give your children attention when they behave well. For example, if your child waits quietly until you finish a phone call, thank him for waiting.
When children are very young, make it easier for them to behave well.
If they do something you don't like, give them something else to do. If they do something that isn't wrong but is in the wrong place, change the place or the things.
For example, if your child wants to draw or colour with crayons and tries to do it on the wall, move him to a table with paper to draw on. Explain why it is okay to draw on paper but not on the walls.
Limiting where certain things can be done helps small children behave.
If you go somewhere with your children and they start to misbehave, it may be because they are bored. You could give them something to play with or a picture book to look at to keep them busy.
Ignore Irritating (Annoying) Behaviour
Sometimes children want your attention no matter what, even if it's negative attention.
Behaviours such as whining or interrupting are annoying. It's normal to want to tell your children to stop doing these things.
When you tell them to stop, your children learn that they can get your attention by continuing the annoying behaviour.
Instead, try to ignore the annoying behaviour. At first, the behaviour may get worse. But if you keep ignoring it, children learn that they cant get your attention this way.
Praise Your Child
Your children need to be encouraged when they do something right, such as when they remember rules you have taught them.
If you give your children attention when they are doing what you want, they will learn to get attention for being good.
If you only pay attention to your children when they do something wrong, they will learn to misbehave to get your attention.
You should make rules for your children only if they are old enough to understand them.
Remember, children under three may be too young to follow rules.
Make Some Rules, But Don't Make Too Many
When Rules Are Broken
Your children need to learn that when they don't follow your rules and misbehave, they have to live with the results.
For example, if your child wants to walk instead of staying in the stroller, and then tries to go on the street even though you have said no, put him back into the stroller or bring him home right away.
Your children need to understand they have to live with the results (consequences) when they don't follow your rules.
Make sure you follow through with consequences when your child disobeys your rules. If you dont stick to your rules, your child learns that you're not really serious about consequences.
What Do I Do When My Child Misbehaves?
No matter how well you teach your child, he will sometimes misbehave. It is normal, and it's also one of the hardest things for parents to deal with.
Children Misbehave For Many Reasons:
Staying calm and reasonable is important when children mis-behave.
If you get angry because of your children's behaviour, try to direct your anger at the behaviour, not at your children.
Make sure your children understand that you still love them you just don't like what they did.
If you lose your temper, tell your children you are sorry. Your children need you to admit when you are wrong. They need you to show you're sorry if you have hurt their feelings.
Try to think of your child's misbehaviour as a problem you have to solve.
Here Are Four Questions You Can Ask Yourself To Help Figure Out What To Do
If you learn to ask yourself these questions when your children misbehave, it will help you figure out why your children are acting this way and what you can do about it.
From about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years of age, children start to develop a sense of independence. At this stage, children want to decide what to eat and what to wear, and they want things their way. Saying no all the time makes children feel independent.
What Can You Do About Your Child's NO's?
For example, don't say Do you want to eat supper now? Instead, say We're eating supper now. Do you want orange juice or milk?
This will make your child feel like he is making his own choices. Your child is learning to think independently. This is a good thing. Be patient and your child will grow tired of saying no.
Some children suck their thumbs or carry a special blanket or toy to comfort themselves. These comforting habits don't usually mean there is a problem, if the child is generally happy.
It is normal for children to use a comfort habit when they are tired, upset or sick.
Comfort habits are only a problem if your child uses them all the time, or if he doesn't want to do anything else.
What Can You Do About These Habits?
One thing you can do is to ask yourself if your children are getting enough rest and sleep.
What Can You Do About Whining?
Sometimes toddlers go through a stage where they have tantrums when they dont get their way
Tantrums happen more often when children are tired or feeling rushed, and when they are angry or frustrated.
A tantrum is a way to work off anger. Tantrums usually start when children are about two years old.
What Can You Do About Tantrums?
It takes time for children to learn how to share and take turns when they are playing with other children. No child gets along well with friends all the time.
What Can You Do About Fighting?
Children may also lie about their bad behaviour if they're afraid of what might happen to them.
What Can You Do About Lying?
It can be upsetting to find out that your child has taken things that don't belong to him.
It takes time for children to learn right from wrong. When they are very young, children don't understand that people own things. They also don't understand what is important and what isn't.
You might not mind if your child takes a pencil from your purse, but you would probably mind if it is money. To your child, there is no difference.
What Can You Do About Stealing?
No matter how angry you feel, its never okay to spank your child.
Spanking doesn't teach children how to behave. It teaches children that its okay to hit someone who does something they dont like.
Spanking also teaches your children that its okay for someone big to hit someone little.
If your children are afraid you'll spank them, they may do what you want only because they are afraid you will punish them, not because they understand why they shouldn't do something. This doesn't teach them right from wrong.
Spanking your children may make them fear you and dislike you. It may also make your children afraid of all adults.
Taking a break (time out)
When your child is losing control of his emotions or having a tantrum, take a short break from each other. Call a time out.
Time out means your child has to sit alone, quietly, to calm down. It also gives you a chance to calm down. Time out works best for children over three. Dont expect it to work with younger children.
Reasons To Call Time Out:
When your child has calmed down, suggest something else to do, such as listening to you read a story.
Time Out Is For Parents, Too
You can call time out if you feel like you can't deal with whats happening without yelling or being physical.
Be A Good Example
Your children watch everything you do. They look up to you and want to be like you. That means they copy what you do and how you behave.
If you want to teach your children to be courteous and polite, make sure they hear you saying please and thank you to them and to other people.
If your children see you sharing with other people, they will learn to share too.
Dangerous Or Hurtful Behaviour
If your child is hurting someone or doing something dangerous, such as playing with the burners on the stove, say no and put a stop to it right away. After you have stopped the behaviour, move your child away from the dangerous area, and explain why what your child was doing was wrong.
You Can Be a Good Parent
Nobody is a perfect parent. It takes thinking and hard work to be a good parent. You and your child will learn together by trying and doing.