Encouraging good behaviour

To encourage good behaviour you should be constructive and patient with your discipline. You should be clear to your child about why you are disciplining them and what you hope to achieve.  

Children sometimes misbehave to seek your attention. Praise them whenever they do something good – they will eventually associate good behaviour with increased attention from you.

Children will often resist whatever discipline you try to enforce on them – try giving options so that there is no single focus point to rebel against. You might find yourself imagining how you would have reacted in their situation, but you must remember that every child is different and there is no reason why they should have the same reaction that you would have done.

It is important that you show yourself as a positive role model. Children learn by example and will often base the way that they react to situations on the way that their parents act. To prevent giving mixed messages, if you have a partner you should ensure you adopt a consistent approach to parenting. This is true even if you and your partner do not live together.

What if things become difficult?

Even if your child is showing signs of anger themselves, it is important that you remain calm. Use strategies like taking deep breaths or counting to 10 before you react. Try to show that you understand how they feel and talk in a calm and relaxed voice. 

You should remain consistent on boundaries and not concede when pushed as this will only makes things for difficult for you in future. Treat your child with honesty and fairness and do not make threats or promises you do not intend to carry out.

When things have calmed down, talk through what has happened and try to agree on a strategy for dealing with incidents in future. If you feel you have made mistakes in dealing with the situation this time you should acknowledge these to your child.

Charity Young Minds has a dedicated parents section of its website which provides useful advice and guidance.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists website provides an online toolkit for parents, teachers, young people and anyone who works with young people