Can you change your child’s behavior in just nine simple steps? Michele Borba, Ed.D, author of, 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know, thinks so. Here’s what she suggests:
(1) Set Rules- Think about what rules you want to institute, remembering to let go of little annoyances and picking your battles. Then write down your rules and explain in clear language what you expect from your kids. As your kids age, you will probably have to adjust some of the rules.
(2) Work on eliminating one bad behavior at a time- Although your kids may have several behaviors that are driving you up the wall, it is best to focus on one behavior at a time (no more than two, according to the author). When you focus on just one behavior, the chance that you will be able to get your child to stop the behavior is increased.
(3) Stay calm- When your child breaks one of your rules, before you discipline them make sure you take a moment to “count to ten” or take a deep breath before doing so. Never discipline in anger.
(4) Make sure your children know what they are doing wrong- You should never assume that your child, especially young kids, realize when they are doing something wrong. When you notice they are breaking rules or behaviing inappropriately, take the time to calmly review the rule or the behavior. Sometimes a simple reminder is all it takes to stop the behavior.
(5) Offer a positive alternative- You can change a behavior by suggesting a positive option. If you are trying to get a child to stop whining, for instance, you can tell them to “Please talk to me nicely.”
(6) Give consequences if the behavior continues or rules continue to be broken- If your teen consistently breaks curfew, explain what the consequences are. If your children continue to argue and fight, turn off the TV. It’s pointless to make rules if you don’t enforce them.
(7) Immediately correct the behavior and enforce the consequences- As soon as the rule is broken again or the behavior continues, then you must immediately follow through with the punishment.
(8) Strive to be fair- Don’t turn every event into a battle of wills. Aim to be firm and fair by compromising, offering choices and joint problem solving.
(9) Recognize your child’s effort- Acknowledge all small changes in your child’s behavior; doing so increases the chance they will continue to try to change.