Road Trip

Most parents will have learnt that the most effective way to deal with misbehaviour is to try and prevent it. But despite your best efforts, there will be occasions when your child acts in an unacceptable manner

The worst way to handle your child’s misbehaviour is by shouting at them, whilst shouting at your child may resolve the issue at hand, it is not a good long term solution to the discipline problem. Outbursts of anger and shouting will almost always damage the relationship between a parent and child.

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Why is my child misbehaving?

There are numerous reasons why a child may be acting negatively. To a child, any sort of attention is better than no attention, even if it’s negative. A lot of children are under the impression that their parents do not like them or do not spend enough time talking to them. This often results in them misbehaving to gain your attention, it is important that you show your child positive attention and give them praise when they are behaving, even if you just say “please” or “well done”, this will show them that their good behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed and that they are appreciated.

Children also like to test their parents discipline; a lot of children want to know just what their parents mean they set them boundaries. Misbehaviour often arises when a child checks to see what level of behaviour a parent will tolerate.

Shouting at your child will only make things worse, tantrums, throwing of items, and talking back are the most common problems parents face when they shout at their child. Children who are shouted at by their parents for every mistake they make tend to become more stubborn.

How to positively discipline your child

Talk to your child. One of the most effective methods of disciplining your child is to talk to them on a one to one basis and explain how you expect them to behave and why. It is important that you start the conversation in a positive manner and listen to everything they have to say.

Set fair and clear rules. Ensure that you give your child a fair opportunity to follow your rules by clearly explaining them, explain to your child why these rules are important. You will probably find that you do not have to discipline your child when he/she has an understanding of why certain behaviours are right or wrong.

Praise good behaviour. Your child should always be praised for good behaviour and encouraged to keep doing the same, the more positive you act towards your child the less likely he/she will be to misbehave in the future. Try rewarding your child; this is a great way of encouraging good behaviour.

Be polite, positive and respectful. When requesting something from your child, ask yourself “if I was spoken to in that manner, would I oblige?” Avoid using any sarcasm, shouting or criticism, your child is more likely to respond to positivity.

Learn about your child’s development. The age of your child is a big factor in whether certain behaviours are acceptable. If you learn exactly what your child can and cannot understand at any age, and the way in which they process information, you will have a better idea of when discipline is and isn’t appropriate.

What other techniques work for you?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

This tip is brought to you by Pathway Care Fostering Agency, an Independent fostering agency that provides mainstream foster care and a number of specialist high level foster services in Wales & the South East and West of England.