The day included tears, angry words, and bad behavior from my child. But by nighttime, as I sat on his bed, the day’s events felt like a distant memory. “I love you,” he said, his voice sleepy. “And I’m sorry. You’re the best dad in the world.” Warm feelings rushed through me, replacing any negative reminders of what he’d done hours earlier. I kissed him good night. By the next day, the incident forgiven, I forgot about the punishment and allowed him to watch TV. Then, a few days later, he did the same bad behavior and I wondered how he could do it again. Hadn’t he said he wouldn’t?
Has this happened to you? Have you ever wondered why you’re not getting anywhere with your child’s behavior? I know it may be hard—it’s hard for me too—but holding your child accountable is so important for nipping bad behavior in the bud. Here are 7 ways to improve your child’s behavior and make it work for your family.
1. Don’t reward bad behavior.
Do you give a child a different meal if he or she protests at dinnertime? Kids whose parents give in quickly learn that making a fuss gets them what they want. Kids are smart and often learn what works and then keep doing it.
2. Give more positive reinforcement.
Do you always focus on the negative things your child does? Maybe he’s learned that’s the only way he can get your attention. Be sure to praise the things he does well. “I like how you listened while your sister was talking and didn’t interrupt.” Sometimes I have to look really hard for positive things to say to my child. But it’s worth the effort.