- Be consistent in the way you punish and reward your child. Punishment can only work effectively if is predictable. Your child will find it difficult to learn good behaviours if she only gets feedback (good and bad) half the time.
- Think about possible scenarios. Spend a little time preparing what you’re going to say to your child to help her understand the consequences of her actions. This only really works if you stay calm and think things through before beginning to talk.
- Stick to a daily routine for younger children. Young children feel reassured by knowing what happens when during the day and their patterns of behaviour are more predictable if they follow a daily routine.
- Don’t offer choices if she really only has one choice. If you want her to do something – have dinner – don’t broach the subject by saying, ‘Do you want dinner?’ You may not like the answer!
- Giving in to whining, crying or temper tantrums is the kiss of death. If you give in to these behaviours will only teach her the value of pester power, and that these are all valuable tools to getting what she wants. So stay strong – even when you’re being horribly embarrassed in a public place.
- Make punishments and rewards immediate. Punishments and rewards should be immediately applied as the consequence of behaviour – saying ‘wait until your father gets home’ will only make your child anxiously endure the rest of the day waiting to see what, if any, punishment will be dealt out.
- Don’t ask, and ask, and ask again. If your give a command and if it’s not followed, then you can repeat it once with a warning of what the consequences for noncompliance will be. If it’s still not followed, don’t repeat again; just get out the consequences and apply.
- Don’t negotiate over punishments. If you’ve handed out what you think is a suitable punishment, then stand firm. Just because she doesn’t like it or doesn’t think it’s fair, that doesn’t mean that you’re being too hard or mean. Of course she doesn’t like it – it’s punishment!
- Talk it through. If you always have difficulty in certain situations, such as shopping, go over a plan of action beforehand with your child and make sure she understands what your expectations are and what the consequences of her misbehaviour will be.
- Be flexible, especially with older children and adolescents. Listen and get your child's input on some rules and punishment.
- Don’t always point the finger. Try to use ‘I’ instead of ‘You’ when you’re talking to your child about negative behaviours. For example, ‘I’m upset that you didn't clean up your room,' instead of ‘You’ve made my cross because you didn’t clean your room.' ‘You' statements can seem more accusatory and can lead to arguing.
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