10 Ways to Prevent Behavior Problems Before They Start

Prevent your child from misbehaving.
Brand New Images / Taxi / Getty Images

One of the best discipline techniques is prevention. If you can prevent behavior problems before they start, you’ll end up with a much happier family. Preventing behavior problems does require some extra time and effort; however, it can be a worthwhile investment that can save you time in the long run.

1. Develop a Healthy Relationship

If you don’t have a healthy relationship with your child, your child is much less likely to be motivated to behave.

Just like most adults are usually motivated to work harder for a boss they like and respect, kids will be much more likely to follow your rules if they feel loved and respected. Provide plenty of positive attention and time in if you want time out to spend less time dealing with time out.  

2. Make the Rules Clear

Kids can’t follow the rules if they aren’t sure what your expectations are. Create a written list of household rules. Review any rules that might be different when you’re heading out into public places so your child knows what type of behavior is expected in each setting. Explain ahead of time if he needs to hold your hand, use walking feet, or use an indoor voice.

3. Explain the Consequences Ahead of Time

Once you’ve explained the rules, tell your child what will happen if he breaks the rules. Make the consequences clear ahead of time. Your child will be less likely to challenge the rules or test limits if he knows how you’re going to respond.

4. Provide Structure and a Schedule

Create a schedule for your child that outlines when he should do his homework, when he needs to complete his chores, and when he can have free time. When kids get used to the structure, they’re much more likely to respond positively.

5. Praise Good Behavior

Catch your child being good.

Offer praise liberally. Praise your child’s efforts and offer praise whenever you see behaviors that you want to see repeated.

6. Work as a Team with Other Caregivers

Although the rules don’t need to be exactly the same in all settings, it helps when a child’s caregivers are consistent. Work together with your partner, your child’s babysitter, or teachers to discuss discipline strategies and behaviors that need to be addressed.

7. Teach Your Child About Feelings

When kids have an understanding of their feelings, they’re much more likely to have control over their behaviors. Teach your child anger management skills and strategies to deal with sadness, frustration, and disappointment.

8. Teach Impulse Control

When kids can control their impulses, they are less likely to react aggressively or defiantly. Teach your child impulse control skills with various games and discipline strategies. When kids develop impulse control, their social lives improve and they tend to perform better academically.

9. Create a Reward System

Reward systems are a great way to prevent behavior problems before they start. Identify a behavior you want to address and work with your child on establishing a reward system. Get your child motivated and invested in the process and you’re less likely to see behavior problems.

10. Plan Ahead

Be proactive in preventing behavior problems by planning ahead. Identify potential problems before they start. For example, if you know your child is likely to fight with his brother over who gets to use the video game first, set up a clear system. Tell them that they can take turns and anyone who argues or fights loses his turn. When you stay one step ahead, you can prevent a lot of behavior problems.

Continue Reading