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Behavior Intervention Strategies for Parents

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Are you having trouble with your child's behavior at home? This lesson looks at some behavior intervention strategies that work for most children who are engaging in challenging behaviors.

Behavior Problems at Home

A child with difficult behaviors presents challenges for the entire family. Parents of children with behavior problems often find that it is more difficult to engage in typical everyday family activities. Routine activities such as eating meals, leaving the house, doing chores, and playing together may become too challenging or even impossible when a child does not cooperate.

Parents are often looking for ways to help their child behave better to establish a more positive home environment. Let's look at some common problem behaviors parents might experience.

Common Behaviors

Children who are exhibiting inappropriate behaviors at home may:

  • Refuse to follow directions from parents
  • Yell, scream or cry when something doesn't go their way
  • Become violent by hitting, kicking or pushing family members or furniture
  • Say inappropriate words
  • Run away from parents or a situation to avoid something they don't want to do

Most children misbehave in these ways at some point. Children with specific behavior disorders, such as emotional disturbance or autism, may exhibit more extreme behaviors that occur more frequently and last for several years. However, a child does not need to be diagnosed with a specific disability to warrant intervention.

If you want to help improve your child's behavior, whether your child has a disability or is just acting out, the following strategies are for you.

Behavior Intervention Strategies for Parents

While all of these strategies are highly supported by research and have proven to be successful with a variety of children, every child will respond differently. As a parent, you will know if something is working or not. It's up to you to adapt these strategies to fit your daily routines and individual child.

Establish Routines

Children often behave better when they are used to a predictable routine. It may help to establish more routines in your home so that your child knows what to expect at certain times of the day. A morning routine, for example, might look like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Get dressed
  4. Make bed
  5. Brush teeth
  6. Do hair
  7. Put on shoes
  8. Get backpack
  9. Walk to bus stop

As your child gets into the habit of doing the same things in the same order every day, you may get less resistance to every direction you give. Some type of visual checklist or schedule will help eliminate the constant need for you to prompt your child. As children learn to follow the schedule, they feel more independent and successful, which may also indirectly help to eliminate some of their problem behaviors.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is when parents give a child some type of reward for appropriate behavior, which increases the likelihood of behavior repetition. To discipline a child, we may sometimes unintentionally focus on punishment. While punishment is sometimes eventually necessary, children may respond faster and more effectively to positive reinforcement for good behavior. Some ideas for rewards may include a treat, verbal praise, stickers, extra time on the computer, or a favorite activity.

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