A positive approach to behaviour management: what it means
Behaviour management is about guiding your child’s behaviour towards appropriate ways of behaving.
A positive and constructive approach is the best way to guide your child’s behaviour. This means giving your child attention when they behave well, rather than punishing your child when they do something you don’t like.
Children can behave in challenging ways at different stages and in particular situations. So trying to understand your child’s behaviour is an important step in encouraging positive behaviour. When you understand what’s behind your child’s behaviour, you can choose a strategy that’s well matched to the behaviour.
And if you use positive behaviour management strategies at the same time as you nurture strong family relationships, you’re well on your way to helping your child learn about appropriate behaviour.
Understanding: the first step to child behaviour management
If you can understand why your child is behaving in a particular way, you can work out how best to respond. So before you choose behaviour management strategies, it’s a good idea to check a few things.
First, think about your child’s development and how it might be linked to challenging behaviour. For example, tantrums are very common in toddlers and preschoolers, because at this age children have big feelings and not enough words to express them.
As your child develops, they’ll learn more about behaviour. With your help, they’ll also start building skills to regulate their emotions and behaviour.
As well as your child’s developmental stage, it’s also important to think about what else is going on for your child. For example:
- Is your child well and getting enough sleep? Sometimes challenging behaviour is the first sign that children aren’t well or are tired. If you’re not sure, take your child to the GP or child and family health nurse for a check-up.
- Have there been any changes in your family life that might affect your child’s behaviour? Children often have trouble adjusting to the birth of a new baby, the transition to school or a death in the family.
Understanding the developmental and other reasons behind your child’s behaviour doesn’t mean you can ignore challenging behaviour. But it does help you work out how to respond. It also makes it easier to know whether you need extra help with your child’s behaviour.
Choosing behaviour management strategies that are right for you
Some behaviour management strategies will work better than others for your child, family and situation. You might need to try a few different behaviour management strategies to work out what best suits your child’s age and stage and your family circumstances. You’ll probably have to use these strategies in combination too.
If you’re finding the strategies hard to use, or they’re not working for you, it’s a good idea to seek support from your GP, child and family health nurse or a parenting hotline.
And if you’re managing challenging behaviour in autistic children, you might need extra support.
Positive family relationships and behaviour management
Positive behaviour management strategies work best when you’re putting time and effort into building a positive atmosphere at home and strengthening your family relationships with affection and communication.
Good family relationships help your child feel secure and loved. This is what children need to develop, grow and learn, including to learn about behaviour.
Looking after yourself
Guiding children towards appropriate behaviour is a big and important job.
To do the job well, it’s important to look after yourself with healthy food, rest and exercise. This will help you feel good in yourself and make it easier for you to stay calm and respond to your child’s behaviour in positive ways.