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How to Instantly Improve Your Child’s Behavior with No Effort

Goodness gracious! Your kiddo is acting up again!!! Does it seem like you have tried everything and nothing is making a difference? Well mama, it’s time you threw in the towel. Yep, that’s right – it’s time to kick back and relax with this little trick that works to improve your child’s behavior without having to do a thing. Intrigued? Keep reading….

Mom giving daughter a high five in the kitchen

Parenting is hard!

Dude! Did you ever think parenting would be this difficult?

No, of course not.

None of us did, or we would never have signed up for this gig in the first place.

But here we are. We have kids and their behavior is a tricky thing to manage.

Believe me, I know!

You see, in addition to raising my own children, I am also an elementary school teacher. Plus I teach in California where class sizes tend to soar above the national average.

I am typically responsible for improving the behaviors of over eighty 6-7 year old everyday.

(I teach at a school where I see all of the first grade students in my classroom each day, in groups of about 25 at a time)

Since I have worked with kids my entire adult career, I figured that when I had kids they were going to be perfect little angels because I was going to be an amazing mother.

Guess what?

That’s not how it worked out.

My oldest was born with a congenital hip deformity which contributed to some sensory issues. This combination led to some behaviors that I had zero experience with and felt like I was failing as a mom.

I tried everything and nothing seemed to work.

There were countless situations where I felt embarrassed, frustrated and at a loss when it came to how my kids were acting.

Ummm….hello….#thiswasnotsupposedtohappen

How can I improve my child’s behavior?

One of the downsides benefits of being a teacher is sitting through hours of training related to children’s behavior.

While it can be totally boring, there are tons of tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that help me to know what to do when kids are acting up in class.

This came in super handy when I became a mom and needed to dig deep into my “behavior modification toolbox” in order to help my own children.

That’s when I remembered a sneaky little trick that requires little to no effort but makes a big difference.

Wanna know what it is?

Of course you do!

Well, here’s the scoop:

You know all that attention that your child gets when they do something wrong?

  • You look at them
  • You get in their space
  • You speak VERY loudly

Well, all you need to do is repeat that same process, but instead of when they do something wrong, you are going to follow these steps when they do something right.

You see, it may seem like your kids are acting up all the time, but they aren’t.

There are subtle little moments during they day when they are being absolutely perfect, but we say nothing about it because we are too busy just enjoying the fact that we aren’t reprimanding them.

Sitting in silence does not count as positive reinforcement.

The trick is to recognize these moments and praise them for it…

But, with the same intensity that you would have if they were in trouble.

  • Get close to them
  • Make eye contact
  • Joyfully tell them how excited you are about their good behavior

How to use praise to improve your child’s behavior

Here’s how this might look:

Scenario 1

Your daughter has a habit of hitting her brother anytime they are next to each other.

One day you look over and notice they are sitting on the couch near each other watching a movie and she has kept her hands to herself.

Instead of keeping this blissful moment to yourself:

  • Pause the movie
  • Tell her how nice it is to see the two of them sitting so nicely together and that it’s made your day!
  • Give her a a hug and press play!

Scenario 2

Your entire family loads up in the car to head out on vacation.

Typically, your kiddos start bickering as soon as you leave the driveway.

Suddenly, you notice that it’s quiet and they are both just sitting in the backseat minding their own business.

Instead of just sitting there and crossing your fingers as you hope it lasts a few more minutes, do this:

  1. Turn around and look at them
  2. Exclaim, “Oh my gosh! You guys are absolutely amazing! It was so nice to get in the car and have a peaceful departure. Thanks so much for that! We’ll have to start going on vacation more often.
  3. Top it all off with a round of high five’s for everyone.

Scenario 3

Let’s pretend you have a messy kid who leaves their stuff everywhere. 

(I think we all have one of these)

You are constantly on them to pick up after themselves and keep their room clean, to the point where it seems like those are the only conversations you have.

Then, on the way home from school your kiddo remembers to take their backpack with them when they get out of the car.

Instead of silently noticing and thinking to yourself, “Geez….finally!!!”

Do something like this:

  • Put your arm around them
  • Announce: “Thank you sooo much! I have had a really tough day and it’s so helpful to me that you remembered to bring your backpack in from the car. I really appreciate it.
  • Give them a squeeze and a smile for their extra effort.

I know some of you might be confused, because the title of this post is: How to improve your child’s behavior with no effort.

But now, here I am, telling you to stop and praise them.

The thing is that you didn’t do anything to improve their behavior…they did it all on their own.

The only effort you are putting in is to praise them for something they did correctly with the same emphasis you would if they did something wrong.

You see, no matter how many times your child acts out during the day, in between those moments are times that your child is behaving perfectly.

The only thing you have to do is acknowledge them in those moments to start improving their overall behavior.

I have seen this strategy work in my classroom and with my own children.

By simply catching them at a moment when they aren’t misbehaving and praising them at that moment you begin to create a system for increasing positive behavior.

When it comes down to it, all children want is our attention.

This strategy is a simple way to give them our positive attention when they are behaving how we would hope without us requesting it beforehand.

Does this method fix everything overnight?

No, but I have seen it improve behavior immediately. And with continued practice it can help you to establish a positive relationship with your child and improve their behavior in the long run.

Pretty sneaky huh?

Related Parenting Posts:

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The Secret to Improving Your Child’s Behavior Without Yelling

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