Monday, January 11th, 2010

Well-behaved Kids


You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.

Franklin P Jones

All children have episodes of bad behaviour, some more frequently, severely and others less. It’s just a fact of life! As parents you can’t escape scenarios when your child will act in annoying or hurtful ways and refuse to co-operate with your requests. It’s normal for parents to fly in rage at such instances, but rage does not help, instead complicates the matter further. A good understanding of normal problematic behaviour can help you respond appropriately and more sensitively to your child at a time when she needs you most.

There is a growing epidemic of bad manners among school children. Teachers are complaining that their students, some as young as seven, are speaking to them in the same familiar way they speak to their friends. Dr Arti Anand, consultant clinical psychologist with Sir Ganga Ram Hospital says, “Young children imbibe behaviour of parents. If parents behave badly, children are going to learn that.”

Signs that your child need behaviour lessons

• Using bad language,
• Behaving aggressively or violently
• Destroying property
• Lying
• Stealing
• Refusing to cooperate with necessary tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning, going to bed at night or doing schoolwork.


Why my young one is becoming difficult these days? If the question bothers you, experts have answers. Children try to grab attention, wrest power and sometimes seek revenge through their bad behaviour. Rude behaviour is also a garb for lack of confidence and feelings of disappointment.

Seven steps towards better-behaved children

1. Explain limits. When your child doesn’t understand what you expect, explain your reasons. Make polite requests for changing misbehaviour, and be specific and concise. Say, “Please play with the ball outside, not inside, because something might get broken.”
2. Provide a reminder. When your child forgets a rule, tell him the rule again. Explain what happens if the rule is not followed. After you have reminded her of this rule, place her in the stroller if she breaks the rule again.
3. Take your time. If you find yourself angry or frustrated with your child, “take time.” Take a deep breath, count to 20, or give yourself five minutes away from your child to cool down before you respond.

4. Aggression hurts. Never strike your child in anger. This teaches your child that aggression is okay. Dr Arti points out, “ Sometimes the teenagers become aggressive and out of control if their demands are not met. Again if parents do not spend quality time with their children or are unable to communicate with them, children tend to be frustrated and aggressive.”

5. Time out. Learn to use the “time out” method to help your child regain self-control. Give your child some time alone, not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to recover from a bout of misbehaviour. Try to discuss the behaviour problem constructively with your child.

6. Take a break. Allow for some breaks in routine to reduce boredom. This gives children a chance to experience fun and variety, and still lets them return to the security of familiar routines afterwards.

7. Just ignore. Ignoring misbehavior is an effective way to deal with fighting between siblings and misbehavior that is directed at getting attention. Children do need attention. Children, who do not get enough positive attention will settle for negative attention, e.g. yelling, brought on by misbehavior.

As parents we strive to give our children what we didn’t have in our growing years. Sometimes in this struggle, children miss out on what we had in our growing years—time of parents. Children are malleable and inculcating good behaviour is not difficult after all, but like all episodes of parenting it is going to test your patience. Amen!

Archana Darshan

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