Correcting Behaviors focuses on first on correcting a child’s behavior by describing the negative behavior and issuing a consequence for that behavior. Secondly, describing what you want your child to do instead and giving them a reason to do it. Lastly, to have your child practice the new behavior and reduce the consequence. Using Correcting Behavior is a tool every parent should learn as a way of fixing child behavior problems.
Every child will need to be corrected as they will make mistakes and test boundaries. Many parents, when addressing their child’s negative behavior, do so with punishment. A punishment is something that is meant to cause your child physical, mental or emotional harm in hopes they will change. Things like spanking, yelling at your child, or destroying a favorite toy are examples of punishment. Over time doing those things can ruin your relationship. Punishments don’t address the root of the problem–what you want your child to do instead. Consequences are different than punishment. Consequences are natural outcomes or things your child has earned because of their behavior. Consequences include things like an extra chore, reduce screen time or a timeout.
Using Correcting Behaviors teaches your child a better way to do things and removes anger and frustration from the equation. That allows your child to understand you are mad at what they did and not mad at them. That knowledge is vital and can make a big difference in your relationship. Because Correcting Behaviors allows your child to earn back part of their consequence, they understand they get something if they behave the way you want them to behave.
When giving a consequence, the consequence should be doable for both you and the child, should match the severity of the poor behavior, and should mean something to your child. Telling your child they will be in timeout for a month for hitting their sibling is a poor choice as a consequence doesn’t match the negative behavior. It isn’t doable, and may not mean something to your child. When you issue a consequence and don’t follow through, you are teaching your child that they can get away with poor behavior as they have no incentive to stop.
When you give your child a consequence that means something to them they have an incentive to change their beahvior. For some children, a reduction in screen time would be devastating and could be an appropriate consequence as it would encourage them not to repeat the behavior in the future. Parents often give what they think are consequences but are really rewards. If your child likes spending time by themselves, timeout during a family function may seem like a reward and could encourage them to act out in the future to gain that “consequence.”.
Correcting Behaviors works because it focuses on teaching your child why they should behave better and what they get out of it if they do. In the beginning, it can be challenging to figure out what motivates your child and how to express that to your child. When your child understands what they are to get out of the new behavior, they are more likely to repeat the behavior. Remember to give a reason that matters to your child and not to you.
It can be hard to understand what motivates your child and what can be used as punishment and rewards. If you’re stumped on what matters to your child, look at how your child spends their free time or their money. Give consequences based on that.
The key to making Correcting Behaviors work is to practice the new behavior and reducing the consequence. Children need to practice new behavior for the new behavior to stick. Reducing consequence gives your child an immediate correlation between the new behavior and the practice. You should never entirely remove the consequence when they practice as your child still needs to understand that negative behaviors lead to consequences.
There are many reasons why children misbehave and Correcting Behaviors can be used no matter the cause.
You can find additional correcting child behavior tips on SmarterParenting.com