Have you ever been in a position where you are wondering to yourself: ‘how do I control my child’s bad behaviour?’.
Firstly, you are not alone and we understand that handling behaviour problems can be tough. Here’s our Little Angels guide to dealing with bad behaviour.
What causes a child to misbehave?
There is a wide range of causes why your child may be misbehaving, and it is certainly worth taking the time to look into. Has their routine changed recently? Are they being bullied?
Whatever the cause, this is the first step in addressing negative behaviours in your child. Here are some of the most common causes of bad child behaviour for you to consider.
- Biological – is your child tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored? If the answer is yes, it is likely that your child is misbehaving for attention.
- Emotional – your child may not be able to cope with or describe their feelings. This inability to verbalise their emotions results in poor decision making and a display of negative behaviours.
- Environmental – life changes such as a new sibling or changing schools can cause children to become defiant and non-compliant. This is largely due to a change in routine.
How to stay calm when a child is misbehaving
Children are very perceptive. They can easily notice if you’re feeling upset and may behave badly when you feel less able to cope.
When dealing with your child’s bad behaviour, It is important to try to stay calm and not overreact. This is especially important if misbehaviour is a recurring problem, as your frustration may start to significantly build up.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that you are looking after yourself and reaching out to friends or family to discuss any behavioural problems you are facing. Talking it over is guaranteed to put you at ease and you’ll probably be surprised with how many parents relate!
Next time you’re struggling to stay calm, try out some of these tips which will help you to discipline your child more effectively:
– Stop and take at least five seconds to breathe when you feel an intense need to react.
– Instead of raising your voice, which is always counterproductive, whisper or speak quietly. This helps to get your message across whilst de-escalating the situation.
– Tell yourself to stay calm with a mantra (e.g. ‘I will stay calm’ or ‘I won’t yell’).
What actions can you take in the moment?
Once you’ve taken a step back from the situation, then you can react with a level-head. These are some of the actions we recommend to best deal with a child’s bad behaviour.
1. Ask a question to get them talking
When children cannot describe their feelings it can often make them feel overwhelmed. Asking an open question to get them thinking can help them comprehend the situation themselves.
2. Acknowledge how they are feeling
Children can often struggle to deal with big emotions, and they can also get frustrated when they need help with something.
You can show them you understand how they are feeling by framing a sentence such as “I understand that you are frustrated”. The next step is to try and offer a positive, or a solution, such as “why don’t we do it together”.
3. Create consequences
When the situation doesn’t de-escalate, your child needs to hear the consequences of what their behaviour will cause. Be sure to explain these consequences calmly and firmly.
If you have decided that a consequence is going to be that you will take something away (e.g TV time or a favourite toy) be ready to follow through with the punishment and do not give in. Giving in will only cause the behaviour to reoccur and show that you don’t stick to your word.
Depending on the circumstance of the child’s bad behaviour, sometimes leaving them to face the natural consequences of actions can be more effective.
If the situation continues to escalate and you find yourself struggling to stay calm, then create a designated time out area to send your child to. This tactic is a win-win, as space can help them to calm down while also giving you the chance to destress and reevaluate the situation before you make any rash decisions.
Make sure this area is boring, such as a chair or in a corner, as they need the chance to think without getting distracted.
How to prevent bad behaviour in the long run
1. Reward good behaviour
Reward your child’s good behaviour by praising or giving them a treat. Make sure to be specific when offering rewards, so they know exactly why they have been rewarded.
But only offer rewards after doing what they are told, otherwise, it will be bribing, which is not an effective long-term solution.
Consistency really is key. Do not give up as these solutions do take time to work. React in the same way each time once you have found the method that works best for you.
Children will get confused if you react in different ways. Try to ensure that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way too.
3. Spend quality time together
Do you tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done well? Often a lack of attention can cause bad behaviour, so a hug and a smile can go a long way. For example, a child misbehaving at bedtime could be caused by a lack of attention during the day, so ensure that you are spending enough quality time with your child.
Make a conscious effort to do fun activities together. This will give them the attention they need and put a stop to any tantrums caused by the need for attention.
These tips for dealing with your child’s bad behaviour take time and patience. It’s easy to make mistakes along the way but the key is to learn from them. Before you know it, your dedication and consistency in putting these discipline strategies into practice will pay off.
Meet our highly trained staff at Little Angels
At Little Angels, our staff have received quality training to ensure they can deal with different levels of behaviour. We strive to reinforce a positive environment.