What is the best course of action when it comes to dealing with an unruly child?
Don’t get into a power struggle with your child. No one wins. Prevent frustrating or anxiety-producing situations from occurring. Keep tasks within their ability level. Limit overexcitement in things such as physical activity or games. Provide a quiet space for them to reflect and gain control of their emotions. Provide them with as many high-interest activities as possible to keep them from becoming unruly. Remove the child from the situation until they can demonstrate appropriate behavior and self-control. When they demonstrate appropriate behavior, reinforce their behavior based on the length of time they maintain the behavior. Reinforce this positive behavior with either a tangible reward (TV or computer privileges; extra snack; five minutes of free time; extra time with mom or dad) OR intangible rewards (give them a high-five; smile; a pat on the back; a hug…). Make sure the child is allowed-to voice an opinion on a situation in order to avoid becoming angry or upset. Treat the child with respect. Make your comments to the child in the form of constructive criticism rather than criticism that is taken personally. (e.g., instead of saying, “You always make the same mistake,” say, “A better way to do that might be…”). Talk with the child and explain first what they are doing wrong and then what they should be doing, ask them, why they are behaving inappropriately. Teach the child to verbalize their feelings before losing self-control. Teach the child alternative ways to deal with situations which make them frustrated, angry, etc. (e.g. walking away, going to their quiet space, or talking with another adult). Maintain consistency in expectations. Maintain a positive/calm environment. Be a role model-make sure YOU express your feelings in an appropriate way. Lastly, monitor the child’s nutrition and sleep habits. Many behaviors are triggered by poor nutrition or the child is simply tired and hasn’t had enough rest.
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