PARENTING TIPS & TOPICS: STRATEGIES and TECHNIQUES
MONTHLY TOPIC: HELPING YOUR CHILD’S BEHAVIOR
- Your child will benefit from a consistent and structured behavior plan at home and at school. An effective plan includes:
o Specific behavioral expectations (e.g., when you are angry, keep your hands to yourself and ask an adult for help);
o Clear consequences (e.g., immediate reward/praise for appropriate behavior or time out for inappropriate behavior); and
o Follow through on the part of the caregiver (e.g., the consequence must be implemented immediately and consistently).
- When developing a behavior plan for your child at home and at school, it will be useful to focus on one or two specific behaviors at a time to avoid overwhelming the child with new expectations and to ensure that consequences can be implemented consistently.
- The following guidelines should be used in order to manage your child’s behavior:
- Make consequences immediate – Consequences must be given immediately if they are to gain effective control over appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Remember to give equal (or greater) attention to appropriate behaviors in order to reinforce good behavior.
- Make consequences specific – Verbal and social consequences (praise and criticism) should refer to the behavior at issue (e.g., “I like it when you do what I ask you to do”). With punishments the consequence should also be specific and should be suited to the behavior.
- Be consistent – This refers to consistency across settings, over time, and between parents/caregivers. If a behavior is punished in one setting (e.g., at home) it should be punished in all settings (e.g., the store). The way you handle a behavior should be consistent across settings because you want your child to know that specific behaviors will be responded to with certain consequences (positive and negative) every time.
- Do not “give in”– “Giving in” basically gives a message to your child that “disruptive behavior gets you what you want,” which reinforces that behavior and does not encourage more appropriate behaviors. It is recommended that disruptive behavior not be rewarded; instead, ignore the behaviors, use time-out, or take away a privilege for the behaviors. Only reward appropriate behavior (e.g., working quietly, complying with and adult’s command, etc.).
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