What Are The Best Ways to Teach Kids Better Behavior?

We’ve all been there: our kid is acting out, and we don’t know how to make them stop. It can be really frustrating, especially when it feels like other kids their age can behave better than ours. But don’t worry, you’re not alone! Lots of parents are looking for ways to teach their kids better behavior. In this post, I’ll share some of the best tips I’ve found from my experience as a parent and talking to other experts. Keep reading to learn more!

10 Strategies for Toddlers

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  • Praising. As any parent knows, toddlers can be a handful. They’re constantly exploring their surroundings and testing the limits of what they can get away with. However, praising your child when they behave well or does something right is important. A high five, some positive words, or a hug are all great ways to show your toddler that you’re proud of them. It’s also important to encourage them to praise themselves with positive self-talk like “I did it!” or “I’m proud of myself!” By consistently praising good behavior, you’ll help your toddler learn what behaviors are acceptable and which ones aren’t.
  • Provide structure. As any parent knows, toddlers are full of energy and thrive on constant change and stimulation. However, they also need structure and routine to feel safe and secure. One way to provide this structure is to set clear expectations for your child. Let them know what is expected of them throughout the day, using simple phrases like “First we’ll eat lunch at home, then we’ll go and meet your friend at the park.” Setting clear expectations can help your child feel comfortable and confident in their daily routine.
  • Help develop their communication skills. Your child is beginning to understand the power of communication at this age. They know that words can get them what they want, but they may not yet have the skills to use them effectively. That’s where you come in. By giving your child a “script” of what to say in specific situations, you can help them to communicate more effectively. For example, if your child wants a drink of water, you can encourage them to say, “Can I please have a drink of water?” This will help them to learn the important social skills of asking for what they want and using phrases like “please” and “thank you.” In addition, it will also help them to practice their pronunciation and learn new words. So go ahead and help your child find the right words—it will pay off in the long run!
  • Watch your tone. You know what they say: cool heads prevail. That’s especially true when it comes to parenting preschoolers. Maintain your composure. It’s important to keep your tone of voice steady and calm. Your preschooler will likely follow suit if you get too excited or upset. And believe me, once they start throwing tantrums, getting them back to a rational state can be hard. So the next time you feel frazzled, take a deep breath and count to ten before responding. It’ll help keep everyone calm and collected.
  • Give them choices. If you’ve found yourself trying to reason with a preschooler, you know it’s not always the most effective strategy. Sometimes, the best way to get your little one to do what you want is to give them a choice. For example, if you’re trying to get your child to put on their coat, you might say, “Do you want to wear your blue or red coat today?” This gives them a sense of control while ensuring that they’re doing what you need them to do. You can also use this technique to motivate your child to perform other tasks, such as picking up their toys or getting ready for bed. By offering choices, you’ll help your child feel more independent and less likely to resist your requests.
  • Make things fun. As any preschooler’s parent knows, getting them to do anything can be a challenge. Whether it’s getting them dressed in the morning or convincing them to eat their vegetables, there always seems to be a battle of wills. However, there are ways to get preschoolers to cooperate, and one of the best is to turn tasks into games. Instead of cleaning up the toys, ask your toddler to get the toys ready for bed or drive the toys home on a cart.

Things to Avoid

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As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your kids develop polite behavior. But sometimes, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. Here are four things you should avoid in raising well-behaved kids.

Assuming expectations are understood

We’ve all been there. We’ve said something to our kids, assuming they understand what we mean, only to have them give us a blank stare. Or, even worse, they do exactly the opposite of what we expect! As parents, we must avoid making assumptions about what our kids understand. When it comes to teaching them better behavior, explicit instructions are key. Otherwise, we run the risk of frustrating both ourselves and our children.

So next time you’re tempted to assume your kids know what you mean, take a step back and spell it out for them instead. It might take a bit longer at the moment, but it will save you a lot of headaches (and heartache) in the long run.

Calling things out from a distance

It’s human nature to want to take the easy way out. And when it comes to parenting, there are few things more tempting than calling out our kids from a distance when we want them to stop misbehaving. After all, it’s a lot easier to yell “Stop that!” from the comfort of our sofa than to get up and intervene. But as any experienced parent knows, this lazy parenting technique rarely works. In fact, it often does more harm than good. For one thing, it simply doesn’t work very well. Kids are far more likely to tune out our shouted commands than they are actually to obey them. And even if they do temporarily stop what they’re doing, they’re likely to resume their bad behavior as soon as we’re no longer within earshot. Worse still, calling out our kids from a distance sends them the message that we’re not really interested in their wellbeing – we’re just looking for an easy way to get them to stop bothering us. If we want our kids to learn how to behave better, we need to be willing to put in the time and effort required actually to teach them. That means intervening when misbehaving, rather than simply yelling at them from afar.

Transitioning without warning

Sometimes kids can be testy and challenging to manage, but abrupt changes in plans or tactics are more likely to result in frustration and meltdowns than to bring about the desired behavior change.

Instead, try giving your child a heads-up when you’re going to be making a transition. For example, if you’re going to be leaving the park in five minutes, let them know so they can have a chance to finish up what they’re doing. If you’re going to be switching from TV time to bath time, give them a few minutes to prepare themselves mentally (and maybe even physically) for the change. Making these minor adjustments can go a long way in helping your child learn how to cope with change and manage their emotions better.

Asking rapid-fire questions or giving a series of instructions

When we ask rapid-fire questions or give a series of instructions, we’re making it harder for our kids to focus and behave. That’s because their little brains are trying to process all the information coming at them, and they can only handle so much. So instead of trying to talk to our kids like adults, we need to slow down and give them a chance to process what we’re saying (and doing).

That doesn’t mean we must speak in baby talk or use condescending tones. But it does mean being mindful of how much information we’re giving them at one time and making sure that it’s age-appropriate.

Things to Keep in Mind

No one is perfect, and that includes your kids. Even with the best parenting skills, your child may act up or have a behavioral issue. Here are some tips to help you teach them better behavior.

Be aware of the situation.

One of the most important things to remember is that every situation is different. What worked with your first child may not work with your second, and what worked last week may not work this week. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the situation when you’re trying to teach your kids better behavior. If you can take a step back and assess what’s going on, you’ll be much more likely to find a solution that works.

Adjust the environment.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the environment matters. Just as animals in the wild behave differently in different environments, so do children. So, if you want your kids to exhibit certain behaviors, it can help to adjust their environment accordingly. For example, if you want them to be more active, ensure there’s plenty of space for them to run around. If you want them to be calmer and more focused, create an environment that’s quiet and free from distractions. And if you want them to be more cooperative, set up opportunities for them to work together on tasks or projects. By taking the time to create an environment that supports the behavior you’re aiming for, you’ll increase the chances of success.

Make expectations clear.

One of the best ways to manage negative behavior is to set clear expectations from the outset. When kids know what is expected of them, they are more likely to meet those expectations. Furthermore, clear expectations can help to prevent misbehavior by providing specific expectations for behavior. Of course, setting expectations is only half the battle – it is also important to enforce them consistently. But by making our expectations clear from the start, we can help our kids learn how to behave in a way that meets our expectations.

Provide countdowns for transitions.

Counting down gives kids a concrete way of understanding how much time they have before they need to start the next activity. It also helps to avoid the power struggles that can often accompany transition times. So next time you’re trying to get your little ones to clean up their toys, try giving them a countdown. You might be surprised at how well it works!

Final Thoughts

So, what have we learned? Well, it’s important to remember that each child is different and what works for one may not work for another. That being said, some general principles of behavior modification tend to be successful. Positive reinforcement is key, as are consistency and patience. Parenting can be hard work, but it’s definitely worth it when you see your children behaving in a way that makes everyone happy. Do you have any tips or tricks for teaching kids better behavior? Please share them in the comments below—we would love to hear from you!



I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

Boss Parenting
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