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Children are expected to follow a set of rules and adhere to a certain behavior. You should try not only explaining these expectations to your child, you should also try demonstrating them, as well. For example, if one of your children bites another child, you of course would not want to punish them by “biting back”. This would be counterproductive.

How can you teach your child that biting is wrong, if biting is demonstrated to them as being an acceptable practice? You shouldn’t expect them to not demonstrate a certain behavioral pattern in moments of stress or anger, if that's what they witness their family doing under similar circumstances. Therefore, you must learn to become a living example to your child in order to teach them how to behave properly in stressful situations.

Structure from the Start

You want to ensure that you and your spouse get together to form a set of rules that you both agree on, as well as the disciplinary action if the child breaks these rules. You want to have the exact same consequence given every time the child breaks that rule. This can never change. This way, the child knows exactly what will happen if they make that choice. Both parents should execute this punishment. That way the child knows mom and dad are on the same page, and will have a sense of consistency.chillun

Remaining Calm

It is important to stay calm in the midst of the chaos. Don't let your child's behavior get a rise out of you. Keep a calm and collected face. Explain to them what they did wrong, and why they are being punished. Then, ask them to repeat it back to you. Some children, especially children with a new sibling, will act out for attention. Show them that they will not get attention by acting up, but rather, calmly enacting the agreed disciplinary action. This puts the choice in their hands from an early age.

Role Playing

Try role playing with your child, teaching them a better way of behaving in a given situation. The more role playing you do with your child, in regards to different situations, increases the chances of your child exhibiting good behavior choices. They have been taught how to handle themselves routinely, and through time, this will equip them in life. It is also vital to give your child proper praise for positive behavior. Doing this with help your child grow emotionally with confidence. It will show them that positive behavior will give them praise and good attention, while poor behavior results in negative consequences.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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