Coping with behaviour problems
We all know that tantrums are part of normal development and are usually an expression of frustration though the cause isn’t always obvious to others! Sometimes children’s behaviour is so extreme however, that parents worry whether there is something wrong with their child or don’t know the best way to handle the situation. Some children can tantrum for a very long time, which can be exhausting for everyone. This excellent Australian parenting website has tried and trusted top tips on encouraging good behaviour and common behaviour concerns:Raisingchildren.net.au
Advice on handling difficult behaviour and what can affect your child’s behaviour on this NHS advice page here
Video on Parentchannel TV about the Terrible twos and tantrums :
Video on toddler independance with tips on encouraging your child while keeping them safe e.g. "instead of pulling the cat, try stroking the cat"!
Most areas have excellent Parent Support Courses where you can go for support and to learn ways of coping that work. They are usually run by City Councils or charities and are free - have a look under the “Counselling and parent support” link for those in your area. In addition you might find these sites helpful:
“Everyday parenting” – supportive, common sense tips from the excellent MindEd website here
Is your toddler showing aggressive behaviour such as biting, kicking or fighting?
Biting is really common around the age of two years and can be just exploratory (in which case gving other things to chew might help) or because a child is upset, feels powerless or can't expres frustration in any other way. Find some top tips on handling aggressive behaviour here.
Worried your child might have conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder? These are terms given to behaviour disorders that are very severe and persistent. Your first port of call should be your health visitor or GP but you can find a good summary here
Tips for encouraging good behaviour or good habits
Although all parents probably use punishment or threats at times, they are often not helpful because they tend to make children more worried and angry. If there is a behaviour you want to encourage, or a habit to overcome, a rewards system can often be much more successful. If you and your child decide to use a reward system of some kind there are some really good tips on how to make that work best. The younger the child, the more immediate the reward should be, to link it directly to the behaviour you are rewarding. For a 3 year old the reward needs to be straight away, for a 5 year old no later than the same or next day, for 7 year old it would be OK to have reward at the end of the week. Decide on the reward together if your child is old enough. It could be something you do together or a treat with a friend- it doesn’t have to be a present, sweets or money.
Reward partial success. Very important! That means, for example, you don’t only reward a night where your child didn’t creep into your bed, you also reward a night where your child crept into your bed only once, or came in twice but went back to their own bed. This is absolutely key as it makes success more likely. Set the bar at a level that you think is achievable.
Surprisingly rewards systems can work even for problems where the child isn’t necessarily in control e.g. bedwetting. It seems that they can work subconsciously. Again reward partial success and don’t dwell on times when it goes wrong.