There's no one fits all. Many things can affect a child's behaviour from big life changes such as moving house, starting school or the birth of a new baby brother or sister while others can be craving attention or having too much screen time.
It is completely normal for toddlers and young children to break the rules and be defiant from time to time. After all, they are learning and their emotional and social skills are constantly developing. However, the key to avoiding unacceptable behaviours is by preventing them, by using simple discipline techniques and by following through with them.
If you're struggling, here are some simple solutions to prevent unacceptable behaviour.
Be a good role model.
We know it's harder said than done but it is important you do not overreact when your child does something to annoy you. When you're feeling frustrated or angry, try to remain calm and don't shout. Instead, take a deep breathe and count to ten or find other ways of coping with challenging behaviour. Pick your battles wisely, ignore and distract petty behaviour by providing a stimulating activity so they can let off some steam.
Reward good behaviour.
Positive feedback builds self-esteem, self-confidence and it feels good to receive. Guide your child's good behaviour by using positive feedback when your child is doing something good. Recognise and reward with words of encouragement in the hope of increasing that behaviour in the future. For example, when siblings are playing nicely, tell them how much you love when they share their toys.
Cut back on electronics
While digital devices provide endless hours of entertainment, too much screen time has been linked with behavioural problems time and time again. As the first generation of parents living in a world with technology at every corner, we understand it can be hard to avoid so instead of saying no and cutting screen time out altogether, impose healthy limits. Curb screens during meal times, in the bedroom, introduce screen-free nights and limit their daily usage by cutting down their usage slowly.
If your child is breaking the rules introduce time out, however, it should be used as a technique to offer downtime, not to shame them. When your child misbehaves, remove them from the situation and implement an immediate consequence for their behaviour. For example, have them sit quietly for one minute per year of age to think about their actions. Once the time is up, get down to their level, talk about what just happened and then hug it out.
To help prevent unacceptable behaviours, introduce a short list of rules and go through them with your child one by one. Keep it simple and be clear what you expect of them, explain what will happen if rules are broken and offer rewards if they consistently maintain.
And finally, kids thrive with routine. Create a schedule for your child and explain to them how their day is planned. For example, if homework needs to be done before a certain time or if chores need to be completed before they go out to play at the weekend, add these to the schedule. As for younger children, give them a brief explanation of where you are going and what you are doing as they are likely to respond in a positive manner.