By: Karen Dennis


Managing their child’s behaviour can be one of the biggest challenges for many parents – After all; the terrible two’s do start at around 18 months and finish at 18 years, don’t they?

The solution to this is simple – reward good behaviour and, wherever possible ignore the bad.

The best example I can give of this is when at a toddler group a mum approached me and asked for advice with managing her 3 year old son’s behaviour (let’s call him Sam) as since the birth of her 2nd child, 6 months ago, Sam was showing negative behaviour towards other children.

After observing them, I tactfully suggested that when Sam became violent towards others, instead of jumping up and telling him off, she should quietly and calmly remove him from the situation. (therefore not giving too much attention to him). And when he was playing nicely, she should go to him and say something like,”what a good boy you are being at the moment.”

I saw this lady again about a month later and she couldn’t thank me enough. She said she felt like I had given her back her good little boy!

Other tools for managing behaviour are star charts, stickers or just simple verbal praise ( A pat on the back goes along way.)

Another example I had was while childminding I had a 5 year old girl in my care who always had to be the first to do things  first – first out of the door, first into the car, etc.While out walking I noticed that she liked to press the button on the pelican crossing, so I used this to my advantage, explaining to her that if she was very good I would let her be the one to press the button in future. She changed from pushing and shoving to always be first to actually encouraging others to go ahead of  her!

For a while I had a car which had a built-in, pull-down child’s car seat in the back, which they all liked to sit in, so I used this as a reward for being well behaved.A plastic pink spoon (a freebie, in fact) was a favourite for using to eat yoghurt at lunchtime, so again this became a reward.

I hope this has provided some food for thought. ideas need to be adapted to suit the individual child, depending on their interests, age and stage of development.

If a parent feels that this isn’t working for their child and instead would like to give a punishment, then, in my opinion, taking away a privilege is the way to go.