All children exhibit bad behavior from time to time. Most of this is age-appropriate, although it can be annoying to be around. Fortunately, you can work toward correcting your child’s behavior so that he behaves in a way that you feel is most appropriate. Nationally renowned childcare experts, such as Dr. William Sears, typically suggest choosing your battles wisely. You won’t be able to correct every problem at the same time, so focus on the important ones–those that could potentially hurt the child or others–and let the others slide.
Choose the behavior that you want to correct. Start with just one–you can correct the others once you take care of the first one. This might be hitting, whining or not following your instructions.
Explain the desired behavior. For example, if you are trying to stop your child from hitting others when she gets frustrated, have a talk before the next play date. State that you hope that she doesn’t hit anyone during the time.
Prevent the behavior from happening. Anticipate and eliminate the situation that can cause the bad behavior. If your child tends to throw a temper tantrum when she’s hungry, have a snack on hand that she can eat before she gets to the temper tantrum stage.
Praise your child when he does the desired behavior. Make a note whenever you see him doing something good. You might praise him for having such neat handwriting on his homework, for clearing his plate after dinner or brushing his teeth without asking.
Correct the bad behavior when you see it. Depending on the action, you can gently tell your child to stop it or you can place her in a “time out.”
Keep at it until the bad behavior is less of a problem. It can take a long time for your child to change her old habits. You must be persistent if you want her to change.
Repeat to correct the next bad behavior.
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