If behaviour becomes a problem

Dear Bloggers,

Due to the fact that I was busy working Idid not find the time last week to write a blog story, but in the mean time anyway carried on. And I had a progressive talk with my doctor and the schooldoctor about my youngest daughter. As my daughter has outbursts of agression that are destructive to other family members and she is not afraid to use things as a weapon. For example her five year older sister was having an argument with her and was beaten with a stick by her. When I asked her were this is coming from she talks about a voice in her head.

The strange part of it is that it can be triggered by the most ridicilous things that you would  say to her. I told her last week that an event was changed in date due to not enough participants. First of all she was confused about it and then she bursted out in total anger and ripped up a toy totally. You can read in her face that at this moment there is no chance to make any contact to her. This kind of behaviour is very odd to me.

Managing children’s behaviour can seem a Herculean task when they begin to realise how much fun getting into trouble can be as in many cases kids want to have the attention and they will definitely get it. However, parents will often yell themselves hoarse or tear their hair right out of their head, without it making one bit of difference. Rather than simply punishing children, which is often as hard on a parent as it is on a child and more often retributive rather than informative, the doctor told me to consider making a behaviour management plan.

Defining the Problem Behaviours
Before a behaviour management plan can be put into practice, problem behaviours must be identified. Problem behaviours are those that parents would like to see changed because they are inappropriate for the child’s age or stage of development. Problem behaviours can be small annoyances (thumb sucking), embarrassing (public temper tantrums) or even dangerous (hitting, kicking or biting others). Some children will also display a variety of behaviours at the same time, such as yelling, breaking things and kicking others during a temper tantrum. A good behaviour management plan will take into account all of the problem behaviours.

Observe the Problem Behaviours
In addition to knowing which behaviours are problematic, we as parents must also understand why and when these behaviours occur. Observing a child to see if there are any themes in where behaviours occur, if behaviours occur when certain people are or are not around, when behaviours occur and the consequences that these behaviours bring with them will help you to understand how in the best way to target and modify these behaviours in a behaviour management plan.

Set Goals
When behaviours are identified and “understood,” goals should be set for the behaviour management plan. Both short term and long term goals should be delineated so that the plan can be assessed both during and after its use. Short term goals can be daily, weekly or even monthly. Most long term goals should be no longer than one year, and should not seek to eradicate behaviours completely. For example, thumb sucking may die out within a year but it is also a comforting gesture that a child may turn to in a time of high stress after the year is out. This does not mean that the behaviour management plan has failed.

Decide on a Path
When goals have been set, the behaviour management plan must be fleshed out. Deciding how to manage or modify behaviours is key. Will it be through positive reinforcement, negative consequences or a combination of both? What will the positive reinforcements be? (together with my daughter we have decided that we mark on the calender her behaviour and a week of no trouble means a new book as she loves to read.) What methods of discipline will be used as negative consequences? (this means been send to the staircase and sit there for a while to think about what you have done, this method we have been using from the beginning.) How long will these decisions stand before they must be reviewed? These are all questions that should be considered when a behaviour management plan is being devised. Professional educators and child development experts will likely be able to help, if needed.

Get Started

When a behavioural management plan is complete, it does no one any good unless it is put into practice. Explain decisions to the child, so that she understands that from now on the target behaviour is unacceptable and there will be consequences if it does occur. If possible, start the plan on a Sunday or a Monday so that each week brings a clean slate. Be sure to celebrate major milestones throughout the plan (weekly and monthly “anniversaries”) and don’t be afraid to have a celebration for ultimate success. This week she finally succeeded and earned her first book. That means that we finally have booked some succes but at least there is hope.

The Old Sailor,


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