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Helping Children Manage Their Own Behavior

Now that summer is here, and children and parents will be spending more time together, here are some tips that can help make the time spent together much more enjoyable – for both parents and children.

Dr. Stephen Bavolek, who has developed The Nurturing Program, suggests the following:

Have a set of family rules.  Sitting down together as a family and developing a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” can go a long way toward avoiding unpleasantness.  Remember, for every “Don’t” on the list, there must be a corresponding “Do”. For example: “Don’t borrow someone else’s toy without asking.  Do ask permission.”

Praise your child!! Praise is like fuel that powers the positive self worth of children.  There are two kinds of praise:  Praise for Being and Praise for Doing.  Praise for Being tells a child that they have worth just because they are your son or daughter.  Some Praise for Being statements are: “I really love you!”  “I’m so glad you’re my son/daughter!!” Praise for Doing statements include:  “Nice try!”  “Thanks for walking the dog!”

Ignore irritating behavior.  “Ignoring is a way parents communicate their disapproval of certain behaviors by deliberately not paying attention in words or actions to undesirable behaviors whenever they occur.” For example, ignoring a child who is trying to interrupt while you are talking on the phone can be a valuable method in stopping the interrupting behavior.

Caution!! Never ignore behaviors that have the potential to harm the child, others (including pets) or property. Likewise, never ignore the child – just the irritating behavior.  (Bavolek, 1999)

Give choices and consequences. “Providing children choices for their behavior and consequences for their choices is an excellent technique in helping children manage their own behavior.”(Bavolek, 1999) For example, if one of the agreed-upon family chores is for a child to take out the trash, a good choice would be:  Do you want to take the trash out the night before the trash pickup is due, or get up early and take it out in the morning? Of course, if the trash is not taken out, as agreed upon, there would have to be a consequence. An appropriate consequence might be to do an extra chore during the week and then taking the trash out the next week when told to do so.

Have a wonderful summer and remember to have fun with your children!