Kids learn bad behavior by mimicking others. Children also learn from poor examples presented in media. The results of poor behavior influence your child's ability to do well in school and participate as a constructive member of the family. Activities that modify behavior help children avoid specific actions and learn constructive ways to substitute positive for negative behavior. The success of the modification activities depends on the child, parents and the amount of time spent teaching kids alternative ways to handle family, school and social situations.
Gaming allows kids to explore different behavior, and when played with family members or an adult, games teach appropriate actions. Commercially manufactured games offer a way to review specific behavior changes, but parent-made games can focus on targeting specific ways to change. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children frequently exhibit undesirable behavior when they are under stress or are angry or frustrated. Games introduce children to the behavior options available and allow kids to select from several appropriate behaviors. Children can see through gaming that there are several options to try before resorting to bad behavior.
Modeling activities teach children the correct behavior and reactions. Children sometimes behave badly in new or unfamiliar situations. It's not that the child intends to be bad, according to the AAP. Children don't always understand how to demonstrate appropriate actions. Modeling creates imaginary situations that show the child new behaviors that fit the event or situation. Parents can create a fun demonstration by incorporating simple rewards for modeling the correct actions. Fictional scenarios at home allow children to practice appropriate behavior before moving into real world situations.
Formal charts keep track of behavior over a period of time. Once children learn a new behavior, charts help monitor the use of the new information. Formal charts also set reasonable expectations for families, teachers and children, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. Parents and teachers use charts, along with positive reinforcement, to help children change behavior. Charts offer concrete proof of modifications. Positive reinforcement doesn't need to include food or cash, positive words of praise also give children reinforcement to continue to follow new behavior. Tracking appropriate behavior helps focus on the positive, rather than monitoring mistakes and punishing bad actions.
Watching films and television programs and reading books help introduce and change behavior. These activities also introduce concepts for parents and children to discuss at home about poor behavior. Age-appropriate media encourages children to identify with the book character or movie or show actor. Previewing media helps parents direct the discussion to topics that tie directly into home behavior problems. Monitoring regular viewing controls the types of programming children see, and this helps avoid kids tuning into shows that feature negative behaviors.
- Healthychildren.org: Family Life -- Changing Your Child's Behavior
- Gold Medal Schools: Rewards Kids Will Crave -- Non-Food Alternatives
- New Mexico Public Education Department: Addressing Student Behavior
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) -- Treatment