Behaviour SOS!

By Thanet Children’s Centres

We’ve all been in the supermarket watching harassed parents trying to get a screaming toddler around the aisles, breathing a sigh of relief, as we scuttle out with our shopping, that on this occasion it wasn’t one of our children!

Many parents worry about how their children behave and also about how this reflects on them – does it make them a bad parent? Does it mean they don’t know what to do? How come Julie down the road never seems to have this problem with her three perfectly presented children?

Negotiating the laws of the land with children, no matter how old they are, can feel like the longest battle ever fought. Sleep deprived, a ringing in your ears from the screaming and it can feel like someone turned off the light at the end of the tunnel!

We turn to Google with hope only to end up bamboozled by the endless pages of parenting advice available, many of them contradictory.

Never fear! We’ve put together some of our tried and tested behaviour management techniques to help turn that light back on!

Stay calm…

Never use smacking or physical punishment as a form of discipline. Smacking is usually a sign that we have lost our temper and rarely deters behaviour from happening again. If you feel yourself losing your cool – try to take yourself away from the situation to calm down or count slowly to ten, (make sure your child is safe if leaving the room). Remember children learn by example. Approaching things calmly is always a better option.

Be realistic

Think about the consequences you are giving your child. Are you really not going to let them play with their favourite toy for a year? Make things realistic and something you can stick to.

Clear and simple

Be clear and consistent with your parenting. Give clear boundaries to your children so they know what to expect and make them age appropriate. If you start a reward jar/chart stick with it – don’t stop and start.

Get them to help make the rules

Having a house agreement can work well with slightly older children. Decide a few rules as a family, (no more than 10), and stick them somewhere where everyone can see them. Refer to them when they are ‘broken’ and remind the children that they helped to decide these rules and it’s important everyone sticks to them.

Reward Jars and Charts

If using reward jars or charts start off with easy to achieve rewards where your child will need to complete the behaviour once or twice to start with to earn a reward. You can increase this after a period of time. Rewards don’t have to be monetary and can be small things, such as; they get to choose a film for family movie night, playing a board game of their choice, going to the park etc.


Think about 1 or 2 behaviours that are important to you to work on and prioritise these first. Bombarding a child with too many rules at once can be overwhelming and may also be difficult for you to stick to.

Positive reinforcement

Try to ignore negative behaviours as much as possible and praise positive behaviours – this encourages the child to want to get attention in a more positive way.

Persistence & Consistency

Stick with it! Change won’t happen overnight, and your child may even seem like they are resisting you, even more, to begin with. Stay consistent with your approach and your child will adjust.

(Please note that although these techniques are positive ways to manage behaviour, there are no guarantees. Techniques vary from child to child and may also depend on whether the child has any additional needs).

Thank you, Thanet Children’s Centres, for another supportive and helpful article. Believe us, we know the struggle and agree that these steps can really help. Every family is different and it is so important not to compare our parenting styles with other peoples and to understand that if at times behaviour management is a challenge for us, then it is also a challenge for other families. 

We’d love to hear how you get on with these tips and the difference they make to your family life. 

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