Setting the stage for good behavior
Children do not learn behavior in a vacuum any more than they grow up in one. They and the way they act are the product of many forces, inside and outside the home, and parents who recognize this have an advantage when it comes to teaching effective behavior.
The important thing is to recognize that, to a large extent, behavior can be controlled, and pitfalls avoided by foresight. This means creating the kind of loving atmosphere in which good behavior can flourish.
Factors that affect behavior
Learning how to behave well is basically a matter of conditioning. When a youngster’s positive behavior is consistently recognized, it proliferates: when it is ignored, it dwindles and disappears. Your child wants your attention. If he cannot win it by pleasing you, he may go out of his way irritate you and get it that way.
A way to change behavior
Even when your child’s behavior leaves a great deal to be desired, you can do something about it. Experts recommend taking a thoughtful, methodical approach that begins with a precise definition of the offensive behavior.
If, for instance, your youngster is impolite, it is not enough to sate that she is rude. How is she rude? Does she fail to say please and thank you, or to greet guests properly? Does she jump up from the dinner table and run off without excusing herself.
Having observed your child’s behavior, the circumstances leading up to it and the way you or others react to it, you will better understand why she behaves the way she does.
Your child wants nothing more than to experience success – and success teaches. By prearranging conditions that will lead to good behavior, you will be able to provide him with the positive reinforcement that is the best teacher of all.
The need for routine
Children are creators of habit. With all the uncertainties and frustrations your child faces each day as his world grows ever bigger, he need a routine that will give him a sense of order and security. The child who has regular routine is less likely to be cranky – and thus will be a lot more cooperative than one whose days are disordered and unstructured.
Permit your child some choice in activities. Choosing helps her hones her decision – making skills and encourages independence as well as good behavior. It will also tell you something about her evolving competence and changing needs and show you how to adjust her schedule to take these into a account.
The importance of explaining why
Children, of course, model much of their behavior on that of their parents, but they learn not just by examples; they need to know why parents approve of some kinds of behavior and not of others. Be prepared to tell your child the reasons for your actions as often as you can so that he will understand why he should adopt your values and emulate your behavior.
Good communication promotes good behavior for the simple reason that the child who knows what your expectations for her are can more easily live up to them. Discussions are the fine way to get your message across and hear your child out as well.
Importance of listening
By no means of communication all a matter of words. It involves such body language as smiles, hugs and kisses – and it means listening. When you listen carefully to your youngster and project empathy and respect, you demonstrate your trust in him.
Helping your child express himself may require practice. While he is speaking, take note of his nonverbal cues as well as his actual words.
The Value of Praise and Encouragement
Children thrive on the attention of adults. Very little pleases them more than to have their mothers and fathers show interest in what they are doing. Wise parents take advantage of this and praise their girls’ and boys’ positive actions as often as possible. Thus they reinforce the youngsters’ good behavior and encourage them to repeat it.