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How to Manage Negative Behaviours of Children

How to Manage Negative Behaviours of Children

A major goal for parents is to teach their children to behave in socially acceptable ways and to exercise self control. Nowadays children are becoming increasingly independent and their desires often come into conflict with those of parents. The result is typically a display of negative behavior by children and sometimes by the parents.The events might include the birth of a sibling, parental divorce, school on moving from Elementary School to Junior High School. The response of parents to those behaviors when they occur during normal development may determine whether the behaviors are nearly transitive or they will persist.

The Negative behaviors that are of most concern to parents are non-compliance- refusal to do what is asked and aggression,such as biting,hitting and teasing. Non compliance starts as soon as the child can understand parental requests and can physically carry them out. 

Temper tantrum is probably the first clear expression of aggression. Tantrums can be seen in infants as young as 9 to 15 months. During this age, infants begin to understand that their temper tantrum can express their frustration and potentially result in getting what they want. Aggression typically becomes a problem around 18 to 24 months when children begin playing with peers. At this age, biting or hitting typically occurs in the context of learning to share and take turns. Boys are consistently found to be more physically aggressive than girls.

Even the most skilled parents can have problems dealing with their temperamentally negative behavior. 

The following suggestions have been shown to prevent or decrease the children's negative. Their parents should not feel guilty if their children's one who make it more challenging for them to implement these ideas.

Infants and Toddlers (birth-24 months)

To help infants and toddlers learn what is expected, provide consistent, predictable routines. Respond to their signals as promptly and accurately as possible. Do not expect your child to understand your requestS and your temper tantrums.

Provide consistent,predictable routines.

Consistent,predictable routines for eating, sleeping and other day to day activities can help keep infants and toddlers from becoming overstimulated and can prevent early temper tantrums.

Do not expect your young child to understand your requests-

When your child engages in troublesome or dangerous behavior, you must intervene quickly. Distract the child with an attractive activity, remove the child from the situation, or remove the dangerous object. It's always appropriate to tell the child what you want as you are doing it, even though the child does not understand. Eventually the child will begin to get the idea.

Ignore temper tantrums-

Make your child cannot hurt himself or herself -by head-banging on the sidewalk or crashing into furniture. This may take some time, especially for stubborn children if needed. Place the child in the playpen without toys or a safe area on the rug but stay within sight of the child so he or she does not become frightened. As soon as the tantrum iis over, be sure  to tell the child how glad you are that he or she is now calm.  Be careful to avoid waiting until the temper tantrum is over to give up your attention or you may inadvertently reinforce the tantrum. Trying to reason with a child who is in the midst of a temper tantrum is futile.It only increases the likelihood of another tantrum in similar circumstances.

Try to avoid reinforcing the child's undesirable behaviors-

 Sometimes children, especially those with  dysregulated temperaments, can be so challenging that they exhaust their parents. Parents may unwittingly spend so much time attending to the negative behaviors that they become too exhausted to attend the undesirable behavior. For a better balance work on working or not attending to misbehavior.

Preschoolers (2-6 years)-

During the pre-School years, parents must have control for children because children have not yet learnt how to behave appropriately in different settings. This means that parents must  structure the child’s  environment to encourage appropriate behavior and discourage  negative behavior. During preschool children learn skills by imitating others. Parents are important role models for appropriate behavior and self control.

Catch your child doing good- 

Monitor and describe a child's appropriate behavior as you go about your daily routine. One way to practice this is to periodically check your child's behavior and ask yourself whether or not you like the behavior. If you do, then describe it. Research also shows that parents' positive attention during play helps to reduce their child's future negative behavior. Describing your child appropriate behavior can often prevent confrontations and temper tantrums. It helps children understand they can pay attention through positive behavior and communicate  not only what is expected, but provides an example of how to do it.

Reason with your child only when the behavior is appropriate-

Do not try to reason with your child when he or she is engaging in negative behavior, and especially not when the child is on the way to time-out.Reasoning is important so that children can learn why some behaviors are unacceptable. However, reasoning at a time of misbehavior only serves to reinforce that behavior through your attention.

During misbehavior, children are not likely to listen to your reasoning. Instead, it’s more effective to tell your child why you like the behavior when he or she has just engaged in the behavior, or to give the reason immediately before giving a command.

“We have to pick up Dad; please put your coat on versus “Put your coat on; we have to pick up Dad right now.”

Giving the reason before the command alerts the child to the command, and helps him or her understand the behavior expected immediately following the command. It also makes it more likely that the child remembers the command.

Use charts and rewards for specific behaviors.

Simple charts with stickers for rewards can be used effectively to change specific behaviors such as refusing to go to bed or not playing nicely with a sibling. To learn most quickly and effectively, preschool children must experience the consequences of their behavior immediately. Administer rewards and punishments quickly and often. It’s not appropriate, for example, to expect a preschooler to wait until the end of the week to receive a large reward for good behavior. Smaller rewards such as stickers,given immediately, are much more effective. Rewards don’t have to be costly. They can be as simple as watching a TV show, or playing a favorite game with a parent or sibling.

Spanking is not effective for managing negative behavior

Routine spanking rarely works to control negative behavior, for several reasons. First, it provides a poor model for problem-solving and conflict resolution. Second, the child may come to fear or avoid the parent who spanks. Third, it teaches the child only what you don’t want, not what you do want. Research has shown that spanking can lead to more negative behavior such as aggression and acting out. Using previously described techniques, such as reward charts and time-outs, are shown to safely and effectively reduce negative behaviors.

School-aged Children (6-12 years)

By the time most children reach 6 or 7 years of age, they have developed a better understanding of right and wrong. They begin to behave appropriately even when parents are not there to reward or punish. This is the beginning of true self-control. Parents still influence their children’s behavior in important ways, but as children get older, parents grow less important than peers and adults outside the family.

Continue to notice and describe appropriate behavior.

It‘s important that the child continues to receive positive attention from you when he or she behaves appropriately. Remember to monitor his or her behavior and comment on the behaviors you like so those behaviors can be reinforced.

Continue to model appropriate coping skills.

At this stage, children become more aware of and verbal about their wants. Many times negative behavior at this age results from the child being disappointed about an undesirable outcome, such as earning poor grades or losing a basketball game. Help the child expand his or her coping-skills by demonstrating positive coping strategies in response to stressful situations. For example-

After the death of a beloved family pet, you might encourage your children to honor the pet by creating a scrapbook of photographs of special moments shared with the pet; or by throwing a “celebration of life party” in the pet’s honor.

Reasoning is increasingly important.

Reasoning grows increasingly effective and important in managing negative behavior as children. Likewise, if your child gets into trouble for fighting at school, do not immediately decide that you must intervene in the punishment administered by the school. You also need not necessarily administer further punishment at home, unless, of course, the school fails to provide consequences for fighting. The child who experiences negative consequences as a direct result of his or her behavior, is less likely to engage in that behavior in the future. This method helps children internalize control over their own behavior, and understand the consequences that occur naturally in society. It can also reduce the child’s perception that you are being unnecessarily overprotective, overbearing or controlling.


Resource-Article of parents series by Moneika Dipierro and Shaquanna Brown


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