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Strategies Used to Redirect Child Behavior

author image Kristie Farnham
Kristie Farnham has been writing professionally since 2012. Much of her work focuses on parenting and educating preschool and school-aged children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Arts in education from Carroll University. Farnham is also certified to teach in alternative learning environments.
Strategies Used to Redirect Child Behavior
A father and his child playing in a swimming pool.

Redirection is a form of discipline that is intended to guide a child’s behavior from inappropriate to appropriate. Redirection strategies reduce the use of punishment techniques and promote exploratory learning, according to Family Development Resources, Inc. This form of discipline also helps children to stay safe and develop patience and self-control when dealing with their emotions and desires. J. Burton Banks, M.D., recommends redirection as an appropriate way to modify the actions of infants, toddlers and school-age children.

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Request Desirable Behavior

Family Development Resources, Inc. suggests that simply telling your child to stop doing something is not an effective way to redirect his behavior. Statements of verbal redirection should be specific so that your child knows exactly how to behave. Rather than saying, “Stop running in the house,” say, “It is not safe to run in the house. Please go outside if you want to run.”

Model Better Behavior

Children learn by example, so it is important to model behaviors that you want your child to exhibit. For example, if your toddler pulls the family cat’s tail, show him how to properly pet the cat instead. Or, if your school-age child grabs something out of the hands of his younger sibling, show him how to properly ask for the object. Another way to redirect squabbling siblings is to model how they can engage in an appropriate activity together. For example, teach them how to play a game together.

Make Substitutions

A common problem with children is that they often want to play with toys or other objects that are already in use. An easy way to alleviate issues that arise when your child wants something that is not available is to provide something else to occupy his attention. The substitution could be anything from another toy to a book or a pen and paper for drawing, or it could simply be your undivided attention until your child is ready to choose something else on his own.

Relocate Your Child

Often, the best way to redirect negative behavior is to remove your child from a situation that he is handling inappropriately. For example, if your child repeatedly tries to climb up the slide at the park while other children are trying to go down the slide, ask your child if he would like to go on a swing instead. If your child refuses to abandon his post at the bottom of the slide, escort him to the swings or to another area of the playground.

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