How to Address Summer Vacation Behavior Problems

Put an End to Summer Vacation Behavior Problems
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As the school year draws to a close, kids around the world rejoice. Many parents however, are less joyful about the long days of summer. For many families, summer vacation means more sibling rivalry, increased defiance, and bigger discipline problems.

If you’re less than excited about summer vacation, here are five discipline strategies to prevent and address behavior problems:

1. Establish Household Rules

Don’t let summer vacation lead to total mayhem.

Create household rules specifically for summer vacation.  Summer is a great time to update your existing rules based on your child’s needs and behavior.

Determine which behaviors you specifically want to address. Write down your rules and post the list in a highly visible area. Don't make the list too long - otherwise it will be overwhelming for the kids and difficult for you to enforce. Include the most important rules that you want to focus on so that the lists remains manageable.

2. Create Structure

Exchanging the structured schedule of the school day for a relaxing vacation can be disastrous for some kids. Without being told what to do or how to spend their time, many kids resort to misbehavior. While some behavior problems are meant to attract attention, others simply stem from boredom.

Create structure by establishing a simple routine for your child, either throughout the day or after daycare.

For example, make a rule that chores need to be completed in the morning. Tell your child he can use his electronics or play outside once his work is done.

Younger children need more structured activities to divide up their time. Keep nap time, outdoor time, snack time, and meal times as consistent as possible.

3. Focus on Positive Attention

A lot of defiant and disruptive behavior stems from children’s desire to gain attention. Each time you scold, warn, or nag your child, you offer attention. Negative attention is better than no attention for most kids.

Focus on giving your child plenty of one-on-one attention. Summer vacation is a great time to strengthen your relationship and create new memories. Spend time with your child talking, learning, and doing fun activities. Regular doses of positive attention can go a long way to reducing negative behavior.

Praise good behavior often. Show appreciation when your child plays quietly, shares with his brother, or follows your directions. Praise is a simple way to reinforce good behavior and prevent attention-seeking behavior.

4. Implement a Reward System

Reward systems are one of the fastest ways to address behavior problems. Token economy systems are a good way to focus on specific behavior problems. Reward good behavior with tickets, chips, or tokens.

Then, allow your child to exchange those tokens for rewards, such as going to the park or watching a movie. There are many free and low cost rewards that can motivate kids to follow the rules.

5. Follow Through with Consequences

When your child breaks the rules, follow through with a logical consequence. Consequences should focus on teaching – rather than punishing – your child for misbehavior. Effective consequences will help your child recognize alternatives to misbehavior in the future.

For example, if your child doesn’t put his bike away, take away his privilege to ride it for 24 hours. If he refuses to clean his room, don’t allow him to use his electronics until his room is clean. Help your child take responsibility for his misbehavior.

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