10 Best Insights: How Do You Make a Kid Behave Without Hitting Them?

Krystal DeVille

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Mother mad at teenaged girl.

Parenting is hard. No parent can deny this obvious fact, though just how hard it is depends on many factors: preparedness, calmness, and patience. 

However, in my experience as a father of ten years, even a well-behaved child is a challenge sometimes. Human beings are complex creatures, and they come with no hacks, no instruction manual, and no cheat sheet to help you. You are on your own

No Angels

Even the most wonderful child has their off days, but some children constantly struggle to express their emotions, often resulting in stressful confrontations with tired parents. 

These moments are tenuous for parents because they can stir up negatives from their own childhoods. If that parent grew up in a zero-tolerance household, the chances are they may resort to the same punitive measures they experienced. 

Here are some insights from a recent online conversation discussing alternatives to physical confrontation when dealing with bad behavior.

1. Teach Self Control

Many parents swear by making boundaries intrinsic, which gives their children a great chance to take control of their behavior. Less carrot-and-stick and more pat-on-the-back is a good approach here. 

2. Laughter Is Okay

Nothing pushes a beleaguered mom or dad’s buttons more than defiant laughter amid a scolding. However, young children often use laughter as a deflector from the trauma of being reprimanded by that angry-faced adult. Breathe: you’ve got this!

3. Watch Your Tone

One child specialist urges parents (or teachers) to focus on the tone of their voices when advising children. If any parent is honest, they may find they are not reinforcing or reminding but merely redirecting, which is searching for negatives to flag. 

4. Positive Reinforcement

The oldest trick in the book made its natural way into the discourse, with teachers pitching in to help. A good teacher (emphasis on the word good, here) will tell any parent that kids only react to negative reinforcement negatively.

5. The Art of Distraction

Kids are easily led and have the attention span of — a kid! Many responses in the thread advise parents to distract their children if they are acting up. Focusing on the surroundings gives you a list of options to divert their attention from conflict.

6. Make Everything a Game

One commendable idea is to create a thermometer poster on your kid’s bedroom wall with an adjustable level. It helps children decide what to wear that day based on the weather outside. Such a playful task is perfect for getting kids out of the front door in the morning. 

7. A Timeout Spot 

Teachers will tell you this technique works if you get it right. Knowing there is a space where your child can sit and reflect is a powerful tool for meta-cognitive discipline. The key here is consistency; they must remain in place until they identify where to improve. 

8. The Action vs. Consequence Approach

It sounds simple, but many parents choose this method. If your little one keeps making bad decisions like under-dressing in cold weather, for example, let them live with the repercussion that they will feel cold. I like this approach as it makes development intrinsic. 

9. Grow Up

My mom and dad’s generation didn’t watch superhero movies, play video games, or even have wellness counselors at school. This crop of infantilized parents could learn patience and stoicism from their boomer grandparents. Being a parent is a privilege. 

10. Show Humility

The worst thing a parent can do is be too proud to admit their shortcomings. Children are not stupid, so own it anytime you make a glaring mistake or bad call! We can only teach honesty if we are honest with ourselves. 

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