Discipline and Behavior Management
Welcome to our Questions & Answers page on Discipline and Behaivor Management. Currently we welcome requests for behavior charts or suggestions for content but do not directly answer specific parenting questions. Click on a question below to see the full question and answer.
Disciplining A 12 Year Old
Helping A Child Who Enjoys Being A Trouble Maker
Out of Control Children
How To Gain Respect From Children
Child Always Responding With "No"
Teenage Babysitter Handling Discipline
Eight-Year-Old Who Is Aggressive, Swearing, And Lying
Disrespectful And Rude Teenager
Kids In Blended Family Fighting
Length Of Time-Out For A 6-8 Year Old Child
7-Year-Old Lying and Bullying
Discipline techniques change a bit when kids hit the preteen and teenage years. As children grow older, it's a parent's job to give them the freedom to make their own choices (with guidance) and practice self-discipline. Kids will test the limits during the preteen years. How a parent responds can make or break household conflict. Encouraging your daughter to take responsibility for her choices and her behavior will be important. Use the following tips when working with your daughter:
Preteen and teen years can be tough. Best of luck with your 12 year old!
First of all, you might want to consider an academic evaluation. If he is truly bored, he may qualify for gifted services. This all depends on his teacher's recommendation and how he is performing academically. He may need some additional challenges in the classroom to keep him busy. Set up some activities that he can do when his work is completed like reading, drawing, or working on a classroom computer.
You might also examine how the teacher is handling classroom management. Are there consequences for talking out of turn or distracting other students? Is the class as a whole well behaved or does the classroom feel chaotic? The teacher may need to improve behavior management techniques for the whole class.
Perhaps the teacher/parent/school counselor can work together to set up an incentive chart. Maybe he can earn a special lunch with a school staff person or a treat from a treasure box for good behavior. Another idea is to have positive behavior coupons that his teacher can hand out randomly during the day to recognize any positive behavior that he exhibits. These can be small bits of paper with "great job" written on them...something easy. Every time a school staff person notices that he does something positive, give him a coupon.
Ultimately, the way to help a child realize that his troublemaking behavior is not going to get him positive attention is to reward his positive behavior. The more we reward and recognize a child's positive behavior, the more they seek that reward by repeating the behavior.
Finally, if change doesn't happen at school, then there may be problems at home that are interfering. Attention getting behavior at school may be a signal that he is not getting the attention he needs at home. Many kids would rather get negative attention than no attention at all. In order to address this possibility and assess the family dynamics, a trained counselor needs to meet with the family to explore what is going on at home. Best of luck!
As we don't have the specific ages of your children, we can only give you some general information. You mentioned tempers and out-of-control behavior. Most important is that you keep yourself in control. We have a great article called Keeping Your Cool When Kids Push Your Buttons. Take a look at that article. Many things happen when parents lose their cools. First, judgment and decision making is impaired when parents become too angry. You may find yourself behaving in ways that make the situation worse such as yelling at your kids, giving them unreasonable consequences, or escalating the arguments. When you become more angry and out-of-control, your kids may too. So, remember that it's a great idea to take a time-out yourself. Let your kids know that you need some time before discussing the situation or setting consequences. Go into another room and do some deep breathing, stretching, or go outside for a short walk if your kids are old enough to be left for a few minutes. Take a look on our article about Stress for some additional hints.
When you are calm, your kids won't "win". If they know what button to push and are successful, they have won the game. Throw them a curve ball and stay calm...win the game yourself. In other words, maintain control by remaining calm. When your kids are out-of-control, they may be asking for some control. They are pushing you to set limits as they are still learning how to set limits for themselves. When you get too angry, you will teach them that dealing with problems requires becoming angry and out-of-control.
Next, if your children are frequently out-of-control due to tempers flaring, use time-outs to help them regain control. Time-outs will also teach your kids how to take care of themselves when they are too angry to problem solve. Time-outs will give them a time to cool down before rejoining the family. We have just posted a wonderful article on Effective Time-Outs.
Don't forget to pick your battles. Kids give parents many opportunities to battle every day. You may want to keep a journal of what types of behaviors push your buttons and what you battle over. If you find that you are battling daily about what your kids are wearing to school, for example, you may need to reevaluate the importance of that battle. But, if your child is hitting his sibling, that's a behavior that needs to stop.
Next, make sure that you have set up clear consequences for behavior in your home. Your kids also need to be clear on their consequences so they can make appropriate choices for their behavior. You can involve your kids in this process. Sit down with them and list the behaviors that are absolutely not o.k. in your home. For instance, hitting a sibling, jumping on a couch, swearing, yelling, etc. Then, list a consequence for that behavior. If your kids are old enough, they can help decide on the consequence. Use consequences like taking t.v. or computer time away, taking a toy away, taking friend time away, etc. List these consequences on paper and put them up for all to see. Then when you are dealing with the behavior, give your children one warning, and if they don't stop the behavior, give them the consequence. Make it clear to your kids that this will be how you will dole out consequences so they are aware of the process.
You can also try using behavior charts to reward positive behavior. Take one or two behaviors at a time and work on them until they are under control. The rewards will depend on the ages of your kids. If your kids are older, they can have a weekly reward. Don't expect perfection. If they mark their charts 4 days out of 7, they can get a reward. You can increase the number of days as they make better choices with their behavior. Give them extra t.v. time or let them pick a dinner or have dollar store items available. We have a list of rewards for appropriate ages on this page. If your kids are younger, they may need a daily reward to reinforce positive behavior. If you haven't used behavior charts before, look at our page on Using Behavior Charts.
Finally, don't forget to catch your kids being good! People respond to positive feedback. Think about yourself. When someone complements your work, doesn't it give you motivation to continue doing a good job? Your kids need to hear positive words. It will motivate them. Check out our 75 Ways To Say Good Job. You may have to look hard for the positives if you are in a negative cycle, but they are there.
Best of luck with your kids!
First, you cannot make anyone respect you. Respect is earned. As we've mentioned in the past, respect starts with you, the parent. Parents need to demonstrate respect and treat children politely and respectfully if they expect to receive respect in return. Parents also need to role model respectful behavior toward others. It's confusing for children if parents act rude or disrespectful but expect respect from their children. So be aware of your own behavior.
If you find that your buttons are being pushed and you are acting "mean", then you have lost control as a parent and are not demonstrating respect. As the parent, you need to remain calm and set limits with your kids instead of getting into emotional conflicts. When you get drawn into the battles, your children have won, and you'll find that you're not acting very respectfully. You may begin to act in a "mean" way and this will not gain your children's respect.
Be one step ahead of the game by preparing a set of behaviors and consequences that you can discuss with your children. If your kids are old enough, they can help with the process. Write out some problem behaviors and some consequences, and post them in your home. Consequences need to be reasonable and age appropriate. This way, your kids will know the consequences ahead of time. If you see one of them demonstrating a problem behavior, you can give him one warning. If the behavior doesn't end, you can calmly refer to your consequence chart and give him the consequence. You can find a premade consequence chart here (entitled household expectations) If you're prepared, it's much easier to stay calm and act respectfully, even if you are doling out consequences! You can also try a reward chart for one or all of your kids. If the kids are all participating in one difficult behavior (i.e. they are fighting) you can set up a behavior chart that will reward them all at the same time. This way, they have to work together to achieve the reward.
In addition, teach your kids how to be respectful. If you hear your child speaking to someone disrespectfully, gently let her know that her choice of words is not o.k. Help her think of ways to express her feelings without being disrespectful. For instance, have her say, "I don't like when you call me names" instead of "stop it jerk".
Finally, don't forget to praise your children's respectful behavior. Let them know when you see their respectful behavior. Slowly, you'll start to see more respect in you home if you stay calm and show respect too!
If your child continually says "no" then it's working for him (or her). Children continue to try behaviors that are successful. So, if your child gets the result she wants by saying no to you, then she will continue to say no until it stops working. Your job is to make it stop working.
First, you can try using "choice words" when you make a request. Choice words involve giving your child a choice of when or how he will complete his task. For example, instead of saying, "Take out the garbage now", you might say, "You can take out the garbage before or after dinner-what will it be?" Here's another example: "You can walk the dog before school or after school, what would you prefer?" In this way, you are not inviting a "no" response but instead an alternative answer. You can also try asking your child to complete a task in a specified time period. You might say, "Will you pick up your clothes some time before bed?" You're avoiding a "no" response and putting the responsibility on the child to decide when to do the task.
In addition, you can set up a chore chart. You can find some on this page for character charts or this page for other chore charts. List tasks that you would like your child to complete and set up some type of weekly reward. It's important to let your child help set up the chore chart. Kids often enjoy the process and feel some control with the chart. If she doesn't complete the chore, she doesn't get the reward.
You can also help your child use other words to express his feelings instead of "no". Let's say your child is watching TV, and you ask him to turn off the TV and get ready for dinner. He says, "no". At this point, you can interpret the "no" for him. After he says, "no", you might say, "So you don't want to stop watching TV right now?" This will generate further discussion and give you time to cool down before a battle begins over the ?no? response. Your child may say, "Yes, I like this show," and then you can continue to have dialogue about the options involved. By trying to interpret what your child's "no" means, you will be teaching him some other responses to give you instead of no. "No" invokes conflict but, "I'm really enjoying the show" does not!
If all else fails, you can set up a behavior chart to single out this one behavior. Check out some of our single behavior charts. You can name the behavior "giving a negative response" or "saying no". Set up a reward for your child if she goes through the day without giving a negative response to you. If you target this one behavior, you may help her get in the habit using alternative responses to no.
As we always say here at Free Printable Behavior Charts, catch your child being good! When you hear your child give a positive response, note it. Tell her that you like how she gave a positive response instead of "no". Use some of our "Caught You" Coupons" to reinforce her positive behavior. She will enjoy the positive feedback, and she will be encouraged to continue trying positive responses.
Best of luck!
It's great that you are already preparing for your babysitting job this summer. The best way to approach child care is to go in with a plan of action, and you're doing just that! Since you have some time before summer, it would be a great idea to set up a meeting with your aunt and uncle to talk about expectations. The kids' parents should be setting up the rules of the house, and it's your job to enforce those rules as opposed to making up your own rules and consequences. Be ready with a pen and paper. Ask the parents to write down the household rules and consequences. This rule sheet can be posted somewhere in the home. Use this meeting as a time to ask questions and discuss problems that you may have with the kids you baby-sit.
Then, at some point in time closer to summer, you need to have another meeting involving all the kids, their parents, and you. At this point, refer to the written rules and consequences. This may be a time to discuss the use of a behavior chart if that is part of the plan. The kids' parents should state their expectations and remind the kids of the consequences if they do not follow the rules. This would be a great opportunity to let the kids know that you will be enforcing the consequences because you are the responsible party, not because you intend to be mean to them. If you address the whole gang, then the oldest cousin will not feel singled out in the discussion. You may also be able to engage your oldest cousin in managing the younger siblings. This would keep her busy and create more of an equal relationship between the two of you. This is only possible, though, if her parents feel comfortable putting her in this role. You might want to bring this up at your initial meeting with her parents.
Best of luck this summer and feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions.
As you are having difficulties with just one child, you may want to examine any significant life changes that he may have experienced. For instance, has there been a divorce, move, change of schools, death in the family, new marriage, or new siblings? Kids all react differently to changes in their lives, and your son may be acting out some anger and frustration as a result of a significant event in his life. If you can identify any causes of his behavior, then you can address those to help get him back on track. In addition, has he always exhibited difficult behavior or is this something new? If this is new behavior, then there are definitely some factors in his life contributing to his acting out. To help you weed through all of this, you may want to seek the help of a family counselor. A professional can help give support and guidance to your family as well as helping pinpoint the causes of some of this behavior.
You can address some of the specific behaviors through consequences and behavior charts. Time-outs are great tools for aggressive behavior...they are not just for toddlers! When your son displays aggressive behavior, let him know that he needs to stop the behavior or take a time-out to cool down. We have a great article about time-outs here(add link). Have your son take a time-out at a specified spot, and when he is cooled down and ready to stop acting aggressively, he can join the family. After his time-out, quickly review why he went to time-out and reinforce that the behavior is not acceptable. Don't lecture or go on and on about the situation. Make it short and sweet!
Specific behaviors such as lying and swearing can be addressed through behavior charts. We also have some great articles about lying and swearing that you may want to check out. Have your son pick out one of our printable behavior charts...we have lots of great themes. Then, you and your son decide on a reward if he completes his chart. If he is having difficulties with swearing and lying every day, you may want to set up a daily reward. For instance, he can earn extra computer/tv time for the next day or he can pick a reward out of a treat bag. We have some reward ideas here.Or, he can earn a reward if he gets 4 or 5 good days/stickers for the week. You don't want to set him up for failure in the beginning, so don't expect a perfect week to start. And, if the chart is not enough motivation in itself, you can eventually set up some consequences in addition to the chart. If he lies, for example, he doesn't mark his chart and he also looses some computer/tv time.
Most important, do not get into power struggles with your son. He may be trying to get some attention through negative behavior. For children, negative attention can be better than no attention at all. When he misbehaves, again make it short and sweet. Let him know his consequence and leave it at that. Say something like, "Well, you didn't earn a sticker today because you lied. Maybe tomorrow." Don't fight, argue, or get loud with him. This will only exacerbate his behavior and make you more angry. Take a time-out yourself if you need a chance to cool down before speaking with him.
Also, try to catch him being good as much as you can. When parents are continuously dealing with negative behavior, they sometimes stop noticing positive behavior. Pretty soon, they are only catching their children behaving badly instead of catching them behaving positively. No matter how small, try to see his positive behavior. Maybe your son picked up a gum wrapper and put it in the garbage. Thank him and let him know you appreciate his efforts to keep things clean. Or, say something like, "I've noticed that you are getting along with your brothers pretty well. Thanks!". We have some "Caught You Coupons" for this purpose. Hand him a coupon when he is doing a good job. Sometimes all a child needs is positive reinforcement. That can be a reward in itself, and children will often change their behavior simply for the reward of positive words from their family members. And if the situation does not improve or gets worse, you definitely want to check in with a family counselor. All parents go through rocky periods with their children. Parenting is tough and sometimes a counselor can help parents discover how they may be contributing to the behavior. Counselors also have some great techniques when working with difficult children.
Best of luck and let us know if we can make up any charts for you!
In your situation, it's important to pick your battles with your teenager or you'll be battling constantly! People sometimes compare teenagers to toddlers in their behavior. Teens can be very self-centered and strive for independence as they are moving toward adulthood. It's a normal stage of development though frustrating for parents as this independence can often appear in the form of rude and disrespectful behavior. First, don't overreact to your daughter. The more she pushes your buttons causing you to react, the more she will want to push your buttons. Kids sometimes thrive on the power they gain from controlling a parent's emotions. This need for control may arise if a child feels powerless at school or in their peer group. Just brush off some of the rude behavior unless there is a direct, insulting comment or behavior to another person. The calmer you remain through all this, the less reward your daughter will get from her behavior. For example, if you ask her a question and she brushes past you without answering, let it go if it's not too important. Later, when you're calm, you might talk with her about the behavior. On the other hand, if your daughter hurts someone with a direct comment or action (i.e. threatens a sibling), you should have a consequence set up that you can calmly give her. You might take her cell phone away for the rest of the day or restrict time out with friends. It's a good idea to set up a consequences when everybody is calm, and involve your daughter in the process. Hold a family meeting and have your daughter participate in choosing the best consequence for her behavior. Our behavior contracts work well for this. Then, when the behavior occurs, calmly state the consequence and drop it. Don't argue, don't lecture...just calmly refer to the behavior contract and that's that. And don't forget to lead by example. If you become disrespectful and rude, you are giving her permission for this behavior. You need to model the behavior that you would like to see in her. Also, when you notice her doing a great job, tell her. We all love to hear positive feedback and she may continue the positive behavior to get more positive feedback! Best of luck!
It sounds like you have a very busy family life! A change like this is quite an adjustment for all involved! It's normal to experience some difficulties while everyone gets used to the new blended family. Your sister's kids may be a bit resentful due to the loss of space and change in family. As a result, they may be taking out their frustrations on your kids. To begin, all parents need to meet to discuss the situation and set up some common rules. If the adults are going to be inconsistent in their approach with the kids, chaos will continue. For successful behavior management all adults need to be on the same page. The adults should set up some age appropriate rules and consequences that can be written out and posted in the home. Decide together on the difficult behaviors and set up some reasonable consequences. All parents need to enforce the consequences for this to work.
In addition, with such a large group of people living together, chores need to be distributed among all. A family chore chart would work well. Or, you could have 2 charts...one for kids and one for adults. Again, this should be posted in a communal area. Meet together with the kids to discuss the rules of the house with all parents present and forming a united front. The kids need to know that they will be held accountable by every adult present. You can also have the kids help think of chores to add to the chore charts if it would not be too chaotic. The more structured the home, the easier things will be. Even television time, bathroom time, or homework time can be structured and written out and posted for all to see. The busier the kids are and the more structured the environment, the less opportunity they have to make trouble. Also, give the kids a chance to check in about how things are going. You may want to have a weekly family meeting where everyone can give constructive and helpful input about the week. This would give the kids an opportunity to voice their opinions in a healthy way instead of letting their frustrations build. Hope this helps and best of luck!
There are some different approaches to time-out. Here are some guidelines:
1) Develop a plan in advance and share that plan with your child. Let the child know the time-out area. Explain the behaviors that will lead to time-out clearly, especially with young children. Explain that time-out is a period of cool down. Time-out helps kids develop good coping skills for the future. Stay as positive as you can about the process.
2) Make sure that you use time-out sparingly. Time-out is a great option for behaviors that might harm the child, someone else, or property. For instance, if your child is hitting, biting, jumping on furniture, etc., time-out is a great option. Use time-out as a teaching tool. Self-calming behaviors are used by children and adults alike. Save time-out for moments when your child really needs a cool down period.
3) Make time-out a choice. Give your child the opportunity to stop bad behavior before getting a time-out. For example, you might say, "You can either stop jumping on the couch or go take a time-out."
4) Attend to your child's basic needs. When kids are sleepy, hungry, or over-stimulated their behavior may become less and less controlled. Check-in with your kids and make sure you're aware of how they're feeling throughout the day.
5) Make a decision about how you'll handle the length of time-out, and remain consistent with your choice. There are different schools of thought regarding length of time-out. One school advocates avoiding timers. One day a child may need 5 minutes to cool down, another day he may need 2 minutes. Without the use of a timer, you can keep an eye on the child and welcome her back to the activity when she appears to be calm. Sometimes, a child has cooled down long before the timer rings.
If you're going to time the situation, one minute per year of age is appropriate.
6) Check-in after the time-out. Make sure that you check-in with your child after the time-out. If it's a very young child, have him remind you why he had a time-out. He may need some prompting if he's really young. You can prompt older children to think about their behavior during the time-out. Afterward, check-in about their behavior and what they could have done differently.
7) Let it go. Once time-out is over, it's over. Let it go. Move on. Don't continue to dwell on the behavior or mention the time-out.
You can find some additional information on time-out in our article: Using Effective Time-Outs.
Kids often tell lies for attention. First, look at your daughter's life. Have there been any significant changes? Has there been a divorce, move, blended family situation, marriage, new school, etc.? You're trying to figure out the change that is causing a need to lie at this time. In addition, the bullying can signify a need for control which can also tie in with a significant life change. Some kids feel out of control in their home environments and try to gain control in negative ways. If you can find out the cause of her behavior, then you can address it at that level. If there has been a major change in her life, you may want to see a family therapist for support.
Consider using a behavior chart to track her behavior at school/home. Have her teacher participate. If she gets through the day without lying, then she can mark her chart. You want to focus on one behavior at a time because of her age. You may even want to start by rewarding her daily when she doesn't lie. Young children need immediate rewards. Check out our list of rewards! Summer break is almost here, so she'll be out of school. This will be a good time to try and figure out why her behavior has slipped and get her back on track. If you can get to the core of why she is lying and bullying, you can support her and change will come as a result. If she can get a handle on her lying, then you can try using the behavior chart for bullying, if that behavior persists. Check out our articles on Using Behavior Charts, When Kids Lie, and Consequences for Young Kids and Toddlers. We have great charts for tracking Single Behaviors.
As always, don't forget to reinforce her positive behavior. When you notice that she is behaving respectfully with other kids and telling the truth, let her know. Our Caught You Coupons work nicely. You can hand her a coupon when you notice that she is doing a great job! Kids respond wonderfully to praise and will often continue positive behavior to get more praise. Negative behavior springs up when kids are not getting the positive feedback they need. Noticing her positive behavior may just be enough to cause some forward changes.
Best of luck!