Shaping your child's behaviour

September 08, 2012

"He doesn’t listen to me," "How do I make her stop?" This is what I hear from a lot of parents when they are dealing with their children. Every parent has specific expectations from their child and these expectations will only be met if your child can identify with these expectations and behave accordingly to them. Parenting skills are required to help shape your child's behaviour.

What are some positive attributes of effective parenting skills?

Clarifying clear communicative expectation

This is the first basic step for parenting. To start with, parents, within reason, need to plan their expectations to each other by making a list of them considering their child's age and developmental status. A question usually asked is, "How do I know if these expectations are reasonable?" A simple way of knowing that is to answer these three questions:

Have you taught these expectations to your child?

Can your child understand the expectations given to him clearly?

Can your child perform what is being expected?

For example; if your child drew on the table. Make sure you give him/her some feedback on that and be specific on what they have done instead of drawing on the table. This will give your child a vivid understanding on how he should perform if confronted with a similar situation in the future. Acting out is a good way to give your child a clear understand on how to perform. Another way is family meetings where a time is set and you can clarify what is expected in your family.

Staying calm

Every child reacts differently to the instructions given to him. Some children will be sarcastic, some will be violent and some rebellious. As a parent, you must be prepared and aware of the limits your child will push you to. That's when you should redirect the situation back in focus. Make sure to stay calm and keep your cool.

Consequences and Consistency

The two 'C's that go hand in hand. Every behaviour requires consequences. Positive consequences are used to encourage a desirable behaviour. Children need motivation and this is a great way to motivate them. Positive consequences can range from short-term rewards (extra play time) to a long-term reward (a gift he has been wanting for a long time). A reward system like this will be helpful in shaping behaviour.

Negative consequences are used to discourage a behaviour. This can be: doing extra chores at home or taking away a positive (something your child really likes to do).

Your child will soon realise the behaviours that are causing these consequences and will then avoid them.

It is very important to note that any consequence will crumble to failure if it is done without consistency. Consistency is the backbone of discipline and shows that you are serious and reliable. Inconsistency with consequences may plant some confusion within your child.

Be a role model

Setting a positive example for your child is an important goal for parents. You can see the messages sent to your child by analysing your own behaviour.

Role playing is a great way to teach your child. This can be used when teaching your child to use an alternative behaviour. Set a stage by narrating a situation and swap roles with your child. When you are done with the role play, it is important to discuss the play with your child and give each other some feedback.

Role play will help your child think in advance and release adaptive responses for situations that can be difficult and frustrating, in turn developing a flexible response.

Effective praising

Never underestimate the effect of praising. Praise them for their actions. Praising is nourishing and helps your child grow emotionally. It will encourage your child to try and do well in a task given to him.

Help them build their self-esteem and feel secure about themselves by praising them. Show them they are loved.