Life

11 Expert Tips To Get Your Kids To Behave

Here's how the experts do it.

Every parent wants their children to be well-behaved. But, at the same time, you also want to encourage your little one’s independence and help them build confidence. So how can you teach your child to listen well without crushing their rambunctious spirit? These tips from teachers and other parenting experts will help you to stay firm with your kids without losing your cool.

1. Whisper

Instead of yelling, lower your voice when you want to get a young child’s attention. It will immediately get them to stop what they are doing and perk up.

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2. Acknowledge Their Anger

When your little one is angry, don’t try to calm them down or ignore it. Instead, say: “I see you are angry. You didn’t like it when I took away that toy.”

3. Use Visual Prompts

A calendar on the fridge can help a child understand what activities are planned for the day, whether it is swim class or a dentist appointment. Make the calendar fun with stickers and gold stars for each accomplished task.

4. Change Your Concept Of Discipline

Often we think that discipline is about punishment, but the word discipline comes from a Latin word meaning “to teach.” So if your punishment isn’t offering any lesson for your children, it’s probably not going to be an effective form of discipline. This also gets at the importance of modeling the kind of behavior you wish to see in your kids. Having a well-behaved child starts with teaching them how to be in the world through your own behavior.

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5. Give Options

If your child hits you during a tantrum, let him know that hitting is not an option. Instead, offer an alternative such as “You aren’t allowed to hit me, but if you need to punch a pillow you can.” Giving kids choices (“do you want the red or the blue cup?”) helps them feel empowered.

6. Offer The Right Kind Of Feedback

Don’t say “Good girl” or “You’re so smart.” Experts say it is better to offer positive feedback about the process itself, such as “You tried really hard! I am so proud of you” or “You’re a fighter. I’m so pleased you didn’t quit, even when it was hard.”

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7. Re-Frame Your Thinking

Instead of saying “Owen is being so bad lately,” think “Owen is having a really hard time right now.” Remember, your child isn’t misbehaving to hurt you or punish you, but rather because they are struggling to express their needs in an effective way.

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8. Teach Gratitude

It can be hard for kids to understand gratitude, especially in our world of technology, giant birthday parties and immediate gratification. Have a “gratitude” exercise each night where you each share one thing you are grateful for that happened during the day. It will teach kids to pause, unwind and reflect on what really matters.

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9. Give Gentle Warnings

It can be hard to be abruptly pulled out of a fun activity. Hey, how would you like it if someone just turned off “Scandal” on you? Instead, let your kids know when playtime is about to end. For example, use an egg timer to help give a “5-minute warning” for when it is time to leave the park.

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10. Practice Yoga

No, really! Yoga is not just beneficial for adults, it can be invaluable for kids too, especially kids with developmental delays or other special needs. Simple poses like downward dog, tree pose and, of course, child’s pose, help to calm kids and encourage mindfulness.

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11. Remind Your Kids To Cultivate Kindness

Let your children see you caring for others in your community, perhaps by bringing up your elderly neighbor’s trash cans or donating to an animal shelter. Kids need to see that their world is bigger than their immediate family, and that we all have a duty to be kind to one another. In turn, this will help to inspire empathetic behavior and better listening at school and in public.