Improving a child’s behavior doesn’t necessarily require a completely new discipline strategy. Sometimes a few small changes – that only take a few minutes each day – can make a big difference. Used in conjunction with other positive discipline strategies, these five little tricks can help reduce behavior problems fast.
1. Play With Your Child Daily
Most people don’t think about play as a discipline tool, but playing with your child can be one of the best ways to prevent behavior problems.
Provide your child with 10 to 15 minutes of your undivided attention and play something of your child’s choosing.
During that time, avoid asking too many questions and don’t worry about making the activity about learning. Instead, just have fun. Kids who receive daily doses of parental attention are less likely to exhibit attention-seeking behaviors.
2. Say Yes Often
When kids hear “no” all the time, they become frustrated about all the things they aren’t allowed to do. So before you say, “No you can’t fingerpaint,” or “No we can’t go outside,” ask yourself why you’re saying no. Sometimes parents just get in the habit of saying no to most requests and they don't even consider saying yes.
Saying yes to plenty of things will remind your child of all the things he’s allowed to do. When kids have freedom to explore new opportunities and try new things, they’re less likely to satisfy their creative needs by getting into trouble. Giving your child permission to do activities also shows him that you have confidence in his abilities and he's likely to try and live up to your expectations.
3. Keep Your Child Active
Bored kids often entertain themselves by finding trouble. A child who lacks anything to do is likely to annoy his brother, interrupt your conversations, or break the rules on purpose just to get your attention.
Kids need lots of mental and physical stimulation. Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise.
Physical activity can help kids exert excess energy so they can remain calm during other activities. Craft projects, nature explorations, and music are all excellent ways to keep your child stimulated mentally.
4. Practice Good Behavior
Look for small teachable moments throughout the day and help your child practice good behavior. Instead of simply sending your child to time-out or taking away a privilege, teach your child the correct behavior. When teaching, however, it’s important not to lecture or embarrass your child.
Instead, show your child the behavior you want to see and then provide him with an opportunity to practice. Say, “Instead of grabbing that book out of my hands, ask for it nicely by saying, ‘Can I please have that book?’” Then, provide your child with a chance to practice the correct behavior. Role playing can often be a great teaching tool that helps your child discover strategies that will be useful in the future.
5. Say Good Things About Your Child to Other People
Although it’s important to directly praise your child face-to-face, complimenting your child’s behavior to someone else while your child is within earshot can provide even more powerful reinforcement. For example, while talking to Grandma on the phone try saying, “I’m so proud of him. As soon as he came home from school today, he chose to sit right down and begin working on his homework.” When your child overhears you praise him to other people, it can provide an extra incentive for him to repeat that behavior in the future.