3 Steps to Teach Children Better Behavior

Effective discipline involves teaching appropriate behavior, not just punishing negative behavior. In fact, the most effective discipline focuses first and foremost on teaching positive behaviors with these three steps.

  1. Mother And Son Doing LaundryModel the behavior you want to see in your children. If you want honest children, model honesty. Tell them the truth. Keep your promises so they know “your word is good” and truthful. If you want your children to avoid drugs and alcohol, live a drug-free lifestyle. If you desire polite and considerate children, be polite and considerate to your children as well as the adults around you. if you want children who have clear boundaries, set clear boundaries yourself. if you notice your children consistently engaging in some negative behavior, check your own behavior. Make sure you are not modeling that behavior in some way. Teaching positive behavior begins with you your own behavior. Model the behavior you want to see in your children.
  2. Point out the effect of you children’s misbehavior on those around them. Statements like “If you run through the crowd, you might knock someone down and hurt them,” “Your friend is sad because you won’t share,” “People in this restaurant are getting irritated with your loud behavior.” Pointing out the effect of their behavior on others can help your children learn to consider the consequences of their behavior, recognize how others are responding to their behavior, and to have empathy for others.
  3. Teach your children the behavior you desire. Don’t expect your children to know what behavior you expect. Show it to them. Explain it to them clearly. This may be as simple as cleaning their room with them or folding clothes with them so you can teach as you go. It can also include heart to heart discussions on topics like drugs, public behaviors, dating boundaries, expectations around driving. You could speak about these topics directly or through characters in stories or movies, current events, or experiences of friends. Whatever the topic, keep the expectations clear and concise. Avoid lecturing and nagging. Just dive in clear, concise and to the point. I know. It may seem like our children should already know better. But, how will they know unless we teach them? We need to make sure they know. So teach them again. The conversation may feel awkward; but a little awkwardness is worth the assurance that our children know exactly what is expected of them. And, that awkward conversation will actually contribute to a deeper relationship as well.

For a great example of this behavior read Dunkin’ Donuts & a Better Behaved Child and notice how this mother:

  1. Modeled the behavior she desired by staying calm.
  2. Explained the effects of her child’s behavior on others.
  3. Taught her child the behavior she desired.

Enjoyed the results!

2 comments

  1. I like that you mentioned the effects of your child’s behavior on others. There are some situations where you want to address it immediately, but I would wait until private situations to talk about it other times. I think a behavior analysis could be useful for those really struggling to see improvement.

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