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Secrets to changing kids' annoying behaviours

Blog Post Teaser Image What do your kids do to annoy you?

Do they fight?

Do they nag incessantly?

Perhaps, you have a child who continually whines to get what they want? Or does it drive you crazy when kids always leave their toys/clothes/towels lying around despite your constant reminders?

How to bring about a change in behaviour is a common parenting challenge. Here are four tips that will help bring about a behavioural change, if you are persistent and patient.

These ideas also work gang-busters on adults so if your partner has an annoying habit or behaviour that you’d like to alter then you can practise on them!!

Tip 1: Change your initial response. Think how you normally respond to kids’ annoying behaviours, and then do something different. Rather than remind kids to pick up toys, remove them. Move away from whining rather than tell remind them stop. Repetitive behaviours happen because of the pay-off they get so change the pay-off to change the behaviour.

Tip 2: Practise new or better behaviours. There are times when it’s useful to practise, role play or rehearse better behaviours. Want a child to stay in bed when they wake in the middle of the night rather than visit you? You’ll increase the chance of success dramatically if you role play with your child during the day waking up, turning on the light and reading a book. Do it a number of times and he’s more likely to do it at night.

Tip 3: Minimise the attention you give to behaviours you don’t want. That means when kids ignore your brilliant suggestions and continue with an old behaviour then, ignore it, sidestep it or implement a consequence but don’t nag or harp on it. It takes time to change ingrained behaviours. Even looking away can be great way to minimise attention.

Tip 4: Spotlight the appropriate behaviour. Show your sincere appreciation when kids behave in the desired way. We often take kids for granted, or rather we are hard-wired to give kids NO recognition for doing the right thing, but we give them plenty of B-grade attention when they misbehave. The behaviours you focus EXPAND so set your antennae to pick up the good rather than the annoying behaviours.

Like any process it will work if you stick to it and follow through. Star charts are one option, but I think they are for parents’ benefit more than the kids as they act as good reminders for us to focus on their good behaviours. My book One Step Ahead details attention-seeking behaviours the approaches you should take.

One more thing!

Expect kids’ annoying behaviours to get worse before they improve as they are just trying to work out if you really mean it when you change! That’s why persistence and patience are your greatest allies in this process.

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