Parent Management of Childhood Behavior

Oppositional behavior in our kids is difficult to handle, especially when it feels like an almost daily battle. Read on for some tips on how to reduce some of the more troublesome behaviors and hopefully ease the frustrations!

1) Choose one behavior at a time to tackle. 

A parent may be facing potty training, bedtime refusal, and whining all at the same time. Trying to fix everything at once will make you feel really overwhelmed and defeated. By picking one behavior, you can see some success with that one area and then move onto other behaviors. 

2) Set expectations.

Let your child know what behavior you want to see. Let them know the rewards and consequences associated with your expectations BEFORE you enter a tough situation.  For example: "We are going to the grocery store now. We are going to get bread, milk, and eggs. I would like for you to hold my hand while we shop. If you can hold my hand while we shop, you may have a sticker (lollipop, toy car) when we get in the car." 

3) Be consistent! 

Decide what rewards and consequences will be, then stick to them! A child knows if you will not follow through. They learn to count on it. This actually increases negative behavior. 

4) Praise, praise, praise. 

Positive praise is the best tool in a parent's toolbelt. Using the grocery store analogy again, if your child begins your shopping trip by holding your hand, praise them for it every few minutes (or more if your child is easily distracted). If your child is listening, walking nicely, then make sure to tell them. As parents, we often get stuck in correction mode. But when we take the time to notice what our kids are doing right, we have increased the chances that those behaviors will continue. Praising often also helps to remind our kids of what we're looking for in terms of "good behavior" and helps to build their own pride in their actions!


Emily Whaley, ALC

Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC), Supervised by Ashley Jones, LPC-S.

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