Every child is different and parents know their children better than anyone! This is especially true when it comes to behavior management. There are many different reasons why a child could be engaging in misbehavior. When observing or considering a specific behavior, it is helpful to identify what led to it and what perpetuates it. It is important to remember that challenging behavior is a normal part of child development; it’s to be expected! Challenging behavior is never random, it always serves a purpose. By understanding what children attempt to express through their misbehavior, parents, caregivers and teachers gain a better sense of children’s needs, and can assist them in communicating themselves more effectively.
Here are a few positive strategies for addressing challenging behavior while fostering social and emotional development:
- Consistency is key! This means consistency among a child’s parents/caregivers/teachers, as well as in each adult’s responses to the child.
- Children crave structure. It is important to establish routines in the home as well as rules and expectations to follow. This allows children to know what to expect from their days and from members of their families.
- Prepare for transitions with advance notice. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and forewarn children of the end of the activity in which they are engaged.
- Allow mistakes in a safe environment. Discuss mistakes positively and talk about lessons learned.
- Reinforce the behavior, not the child! For example, say “I like how you are sitting so patiently waiting for your turn” rather than saying “Good boy”.
- Assist children in identifying and expressing their emotions. Keep a feelings chart in a prominent place, such as the refrigerator
- Help children engage in healthy coping skills when they are upset (i.e. deep breathing, counting to ten, listening to music).
Interested in learning more about behavior management and ways to foster social and emotional development in children, inquire about our Parenting Group at Pediatric Therapeutics which will be run by Cara Marucci, MEd, LPC this Fall.