In a perfect world, children would always listen and behave, especially in public. But, we don't live in a perfect world! Children are small humans learning everything from the people around them and it's our job as parents and adults to to teach and mold them along the way.
Here are five simple and inexpensive ways to encourage and reinforce the good behavior from your children.
It's simple– tell kids when they're good. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. We can easily get caught up in pointing out the bad because we want to correct it and teach them, but children will respond better when they're “caught being good”.
My husband and I thank each other for seemingly small household tasks. He appreciates my help and I appreciate his. So the same should go for your children. Thanking them for responding to requests, helping out, or simply being calm and well behaved shows your kids that you appreciate them and will reinforce the good behaviors.
When children are small, there is very little they have 100% control over. We make a lot decisions for our children and often without their input. Giving children choices and the power to make decisions can alleviate the power struggle and help with acting out.
We all like treats or incentives, children are no different. Whether your approach is more formal like a behavior chart (positive reinforcement) or simply offering an ice cream or small trinket treat at the end of a good day (or week for older children), treats and incentives can easily guide and reinforce the good behaviors.
Find what makes them want to behave and “do-good” and work to that strength. Most adults work for a paycheck, young children will work for a treat, prize or a token that earns them something. The key is to find out what motivates your child and use that to your advantage. Not sure what motivates your child? Ask them. Be warned as they grow it will change and if you keep them involved in the token system you'll never be left guessing.
Photo credit: adapted from Kate B Dixon | Flickr