At first glance, a child’s misadventures may seem random. But spend a week or two playing detective, and you may see a pattern. Pay attention to the specific situations that lead to trouble and — even more important — to the times of day when trouble usually occurs.
“You may find that tantrums come at certain times of the day,” says Laura K., of San Francisco, mother of Jack, eight. “With my son, we found that it was right after the medication wore off. So we asked the doctor for a small booster dose to get us through. It’s worked wonders for cutting down on the bad behavior.”
Sometimes children simply fail to see the connection between how they behave and how they’re treated. In such cases, behavior charts are a godsend. The idea is to post a chart, specifying the behaviors you expect and the rewards the child will earn for toeing the line.
Renee L., of Northbrook, Illinois, mother of Justin, nine, explains: “Once children see that good behavior gets them privileges and bad behavior gets them nothing, they’re more likely to comply.” It helps to focus on only a few behaviors at a time.
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