Monday, October 10, 2011

Prevent Inappropriate Behavior - 2nd in Series

A loud wail came from behind the grocery store isle. Sounds like an unhappy child. As I turned the corner, I saw a young boy lying on the cement floor—arms flailing, legs pounding, and tears streaming down his red puckered face. As he continued his temper tantrum, I could hear him pleading, “I want it. I want it now!”

The boy’s mother looked horrified and angry. She begged for him to stop, then screamed at him to stop. Mom grabbed the boy’s arm, jerking him from the floor, and slapped him across his bottom, yelling, “Stop it! You stop it right now! No more video games for you, young man!”

Now two people were out of control. Feelings of hurt and anger started bubbling inside of me. Tears threatened to fill my eyes. I gave her a sad look hoping it would make her realize that I thought she should rethink her behavior.

How could this unfortunate scene have been prevented?


Appropriate behavior by children can, and should, be learned at home before they enter school. Here are some suggestions on how to create an environment where good behavior is the norm and expected.

·    Rules at home are necessary with rewards and consequences. A simple weekly behavior chart, or monthly calendar, can work wonders. Let your child make a happy or sad face indicating their behavior at the end of every day. Or they could place a sticker on the well-behaved days. When they have accumulated a predetermined number of happy faces or stickers, they will have earned a reward. Money is not necessarily the best ingredient for a reward. Children want praise and one-on-one special time with a parent such as going to the park or library, reading a book together, baking cookies, or playing a game outside. I was humbled when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher told me that Sarah’s favorite thing to do with me was to play with her dollhouse. No gasoline or extra money was needed.
  • Observe children and anticipate problems before they escalate. Young children need to be supervised.
  • Ignore misbehavior if appropriate. Perhaps an unhappy look from you is all that is necessary.
  • Warn children of transitions such as the end of play time or going to another location.
  • Concentrate on shaping positive behavior. Compliment and use lavish praise when children have good behavior and actions.
  • Use your voice, hands, facial expressions, and actions as tools to maintain control and to prevent problems. When things are going well, your voice can be soft, natural, and casual. When you sense a need for more control, your voice can be firm and say, “Take it easy now. Slow down.”
  • Help children use words instead of force: “Tell her what you want.” “Think about what you are doing.” “Be careful. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
  • Limit time children spend in front of electronic gadgets. Real back-and-forth communication and interaction is necessary for growth in vocabulary, expression, comprehension, and social skills. Pre-approve electronic games checking for violence, disrespectful attitudes, or words and actions that you do not want your child to imitate.
  • Allow children to experience logical consequences. Consequences should be established before problems occur. Be firm and stick with the plan. They will become better prepared to make the right choices when you are not around.
  • Structure the environment to support appropriate behavior. Young children need action. They need time for hard physical play to release stress, learn social skills, develop motor skills, and to just be a kid. Children learn from using blocks, paint, crayons, scissors, glue, Playdough, water, sand, puzzles, swings, and natural outdoor materials. Young children need activities that are just right for their age. The goal is for children to accomplish what they can do. Hands-on discovery, using the five senses, enhances the joy and meaning of learning and extends the learning time.
  • Treat children with unconditional love. It is the behavior that is unacceptable—the child is loved no matter what has happened.
Parents are the most important people in a young child's life. Be a model of good behavior to help them grow into respectful, happy, creative, contributing members of our society.

This is a series on Discipline. Click on links below to view other posts:
4.Consequences: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
5. Tips for Enforcing Consequences

Patience means staying with something until the end.
It means delaying immediate gratification for future
blessings. It means reining in anger and holding
back the unkind word…Patience is the process
of perfection
. ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf

 For more tips see my books: Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents and The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.

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  1. Yes warning of transitions is so key!! Loving this post!!!

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  3. Transition warnings: 'In 5 minutes we will do...'
    Also consistency in routine/schedule. With consistent routines children will know what to expect and what is about to happen.
    In my classroom of 3-4 year olds, the students know the daily schedule and we don't stray from it unless we absolutely have to. They know what we do at each moment of the day and what activity comes after their current activity. If we have to change times/activities/locations, I give them notice and we talk about it before it happens.

  4. You sound like an experienced teacher who knows how to prevent problems before they escalate. Some children, especially autistic children, really benefit from visual clues of the daily schedule. I still become a little upset if someone wants me to change my plans. Some people just aren't very flexible or spontaneous. I try and justify it by saying, "I'm busy. You're messing with my plans." Thanks for commenting!

  5. I learned to pick up the child and take them home at that point. Once they are out of control, it is harder to get them back into control with an audience. There are a couple of other approaches that work, but I have found that denial of an expected treat seems to have an immediate effect. Going to the store in our family always got the kids some kind of a small appreciation treat. So, I usually only ever had to go home one time and they learned their lesson. They had to know that I wasn't going to put up with the behavior anywhere. I also agree with scheduling. And make outings a big deal for them. The more they feel like they lost out because of bad behavior, the less they will be inclined to act that way in the future. Love your ideas though, I wish I would have had them when the kids were younger. Now I have teenagers and they are an entirely different breed!!

  6. Love your comment. You followed through on the consequence. So many parents don't and it confuses a child and then they have to push the boundaries again. Fair consequences show a parent is paying attention and truly cares about their child. Some parents think it's easier to just give in - but actually it costs them more time and patience in the end and maybe counseling during those teenage years. See how much money you saved? Teenagers ARE from another sphere. I was. Thanks for your insight.

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  8. You made some great points here! I try my best to be a wonderful parent to my kids, but I'll admit it can be hard sometimes. I have a stubborn buch and listening to Mom is not their favorite past time! I always make sure I follow through with appropriate consequences when they misbehave and I do limit their use of technology like the computer and television.

    Thanks for stopping by The Healthy Moms Magazine!

  9. This was a great post. I use a lot of these ideas, but I picked up several more. And I really appreciate people spreading the message that discipline doesn't mean punishment and it doesn't mean getting physical. Children are little people who are just starting to learn about behavior. It's certainly not an easy job to be a parent, and there are no shortcuts.
    I'm looking forward to the next part in the series.

  10. I absolutely LOVE this! Masterfully written.
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  11. I'm so glad when I hear parents aren't hitting their children. Truly, it does not work in the long run. It only makes the child frustrated and angry and the rebellion comes out in the teen years. It takes patience and stamina but non-physical consequences can, and do, work. Thanks for visiting!


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