Lay out the rules for your child so she knows her limits.
Parents really want only a few things from their children. Usually, for them to behave themselves and be happy. It may not seem like much, but as a parent, it's easy to always second-guess how well you are raising your kids. Especially after they throw a temper tantrum at your great aunt Maud's birthday party. However, a little consistency and consideration work wonders on raising kids that behave themselves -- most of the time.
1Foster self-esteem in your child. Life is busy, it's easy to forget how vulnerable your little tot is. If she is bustled about from daycare, preschool or between parents, she might not be getting as much positive reinforcement as she needs. You can boost her self-esteem by rewarding the positive efforts she makes and redirecting the negative. For example, if she makes a mess in the kitchen, ask her to help you clean up and then tell her she was a good helper. Children that don't have a strong sense of self-esteem will often enjoy attention, even if it's negative.
2Reward good behavior. This is more important than always punishing bad behavior. Rewarding good behavior encourages them to behave more, leaving less room for bad behavior. So, if your child cleans up all her toys without being asked, give her a hug and do an activity she likes, like reading a book.
3Pick your battles. If you are constantly scolding your child for everything she does wrong, she is going to feel like she can't do anything right -- so why bother! Out comes the bad behavior. Instead, lay out the basic rules and stick to them. Some good rules for your family might be: no kicking, hitting or biting, always eat meals at the table, clean up your toys when you are done playing and wash your hands after using the washroom and before eating.
4Redirect all other behavior that doesn't break the main rules. This means you don't have to constantly be punishing her for forgetting herself. It also leaves room for bad days or exuberant days. If your child is sick or exhausted, you don't want to punish every action just because she is tired and forgets herself. The same is true for high-energy days, like when they have friends over, they get worked up and everything else goes out the window. Redirect the negative behavior so he's not sitting in a time-out all day. For example, if your child is throwing a ball in the house, remind her that balls are outside toys, and then go and play outside with him.
5Model the behavior you want to see in your child. Sure, it's hard to say, "Thank you" if you are bickering with your spouse, but it shows your child that manners always have a place. This goes for outside the home too -- avoid cursing people in traffic or being rude to a store clerk. If your child sees or hears that kind of attitude, she's likely to bring it home.
6Treat your child with respect. If she has your respect, she's going to want to keep it. Instead of yelling at her to pick up her toys or get in the car, ask her politely. If she doesn't listen, ask her why she isn't listening and give her a chance to explain. She may have forgotten something or need to use the washroom but doesn't know how to tell you.
- Make sure your child gets enough healthy food to eat and enough sleep. Hungry and tired children are much more likely to act out. According to KidsHealth.org, toddlers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period and preschoolers need 10 to 12. Good food choices include whole grains, lean meat, low-fat milk and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.