‘Behaviour is the mirror in which everyone shows their image,’ said the famous German writer, Goethe. In which case, don’t we, as parents, want this mirror to reflect the best in our children? In fact, teaching the significance of good behaviour to young children is a basic part of parenting. However, the way we teach it, will determine how well our children imbibe and implement it in their lives.
Here are some simple tips to encourage good behaviour:
1. Tell them why: Merely asking children to do something versus telling them why they should do it makes a huge difference.
2. Reinforce: Reminding them to do something, more than once, helps them understand that certain things are important. Be creative here. If your children have difficulty saying, ‘Thank you’, prompt them to say these words when an opportunity arises.
3. Don’t be a taskmaster: Forcing good behaviour upon children will have a bad influence in the long term. They begin to hate the concept of positive behaviour because of the pressure put on them. They may also start hating you for enforcing these habits on them. So, give them some breathing space.
4. Be an example: Parents are their children’s first teachers. Children often do what they see their parents do; especially toddlers. Try to become the kind of idol your ward would want to follow.
5. Follow through: Teaching, when accompanied by real-life examples, can go a long way in teaching children positive behaviour.
6. Reward: Accolades will help children realise that good behaviour in life is always rewarded. Also, praise at appropriate times always helps.
7. Teach them about consequences: With rewards also come punishments. But, punishments don’t help much unless children understand why they have been punished for not doing something their parents consider good. For example, take their video game away if they don’t share it with their sibling or deny television viewing privileges unless they finish their school work.
8. Help them decide for themselves: Do you want your kids to blindly follow what you tell them? Or, do you want them to use their own sense and logic to arrive at solutions and decisions? Ask your children questions that will help them think over their behaviour. A simple query such as how they felt after they misbehaved with the neighbour can lead them to think about their behaviour and its consequences.
9. Teach through real-life scenarios: Does your child keep tearing books despite repeated requests and warnings? Or, destroying plants in the garden without any regard? Then, how about taking them to libraries to teach them the importance of books? Or, giving them a virtual tour of how books are made and how most children in the world do not have access to simple school books? Tell them how plants are living beings and how they help us in many ways.
10. Regulate and execute: Keep checking if your child is following your requests for certain behaviours. Switch your teaching tactic if one method doesn’t work. Most importantly, keep going. Don’t give up. Sooner or later, children get the message.
Rakhee Maloo is a freelance writer based out of Hyderabad.
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