Is your child displaying challenging behaviour? Here are some simple strategies to make your life a little easier.

Behaviour management- easy for some, difficult for others. No matter what your parenting style, here are some useful strategies for you to try when your child is pushing the boundaries.

Positive Reinforcement

We all love to be praised, it lifts our mood, confidence and self-esteem. This is exactly the same for children. Make sure you use positive praise often with your child, even if it’s something small it means that your child will be more likely to display this behaviour again in the future. However, if you do see repeated poor behaviour, then it is likely that you have not used positive praise as effectively as you could. Worry not, if you use the following tips, you’ll be sure to succeed;

  • Praise any positive behaviour sooner rather than later, in the moment when possible, and be specific about what you are giving praise for. Use phrases such as “That’s really great sharing Abdul, well done!” Giving praise or a reward straight away helps to strengthen the connection between the reinforcement and the behavior, and increasing the likelihood of the child repeating the desired behavior.
  • Don’t waste your time and money on candies or toys. Whilst they are a nice reward once in a while, there are plenty of ways to practice positive reinforcement without breaking the bank. Simple strategies can be much more effective, such as; giving your child a high five, doing a happy dance, singing a silly song together, going to the park or allowing them to choose what to eat for dinner.
  • Remember the size of the reward should match the behavior that the child has displayed. In essence- the better the behavior the larger the reward.
  • Be consistent, after some time it will become second nature to your child.

Give a short warning prior to a transition

You may have noticed that your child is more prone to getting upset when they are suddenly removed from their activity of choice, whether it be to leave the house, change their nappy or go to bed. Nobody really enjoys being interrupted and yanked from an activity. Next time, try giving your child a two to five minute warning before you make the transition, this will prepare their mind for the change, and help prevent any trouble.

Practice what you preach

Nobody is perfect, however always try be a positive role model for your child. As a parent you are your child’s very first educator and why should your child say please and thankyou when you don’t? Hearing this language consistently will help your child to learn the language and use it themselves in the future.

First & then

This is a structured way to let your child know two things. First- what the expected behaviour is and then- what positive reinforcement they will receive after. For example- “First you need to tidy your toys, then we can go to the park.”
Using this method will help your child to process what you are asking them to do, and makes them aware that something fun is coming, thus helping them to perform the desired behaviour.

Dealing with Defiance

Even if you consistently follow the above strategies, there may be some instances when your child shows no interest and is really testing your limits. Depending on your child’s age and level of understanding it is sometimes beneficial if you choose to ignore the challenging behaviour and divert your attention elsewhere. This will allow your child to regulate their own emotions. Once calm, you can discuss what happened and decide on some strategies to help in the future.
Please note- if your child is at risk of putting themselves or others in danger the behaviour cannot be ignored, call for help if you can, move your child into a safer place or remove any possible hazards from the immediate environment. If this is a regular occurrence for your child and you are worried, speak with your child’s doctor or teacher for further assessment.

Here at The Little Dreamers Nursery our staff are highly trained in dealing with challenging behaviours. If you feel you need any further support, please feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help!

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