7 Biggest Discipline Mistakes and Simple Solutions to Change Kids’ Behavior

by | Jan 12, 2015 | Discipline & Behavior, Parenting

You may be surprised to discover what you’re doing wrong to turn that behavior around

Note to my readers: Over the past years I’ve been on a mission to find the best solutions in child development — tips that really do enhance our children’s character, behavior, emotional, social and cognitive development. I combed literally hundreds of studies and the absolute best solutions I’ve put together in a compete reference guide of everything parents really need to know about raising good, caring, responsible and fulfilled kids in today’s world.

That book is finally in print (yes!) and for sale. It’s called, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. I’ll feature a few solutions from that reference guide in my blogs. Just know that the book is over 750 pages and features dozens of solutions for the 101 top parent concerns for kids 3 to 13 that help you reap the positive changes you seek in your child.  But the book is designed just as parents said they wanted it — “Make it look like a cookbook, so I can just flip to the problem and find the solution.” That’s exactly how the book is set up.

Today’s blog: The seven most important parenting solutions to reap real and lasting behavior change.

A Behavior 101 Primer for Puzzled Parents

So you’re trying to make your child quit being so darn flippant—or lying or cheating or defying you, and you’re having little success. You’ve tried threatening, scolding and even begging, but nothing seems to work. Frankly, you’re at your wit’s end. How can you ensure that your child stops his bad attitude for good? The first thing you may want to do is re-think your approach to discipline. And there’s one important premise to remember: Attitudes and behavior are learned, so they can be unlearned.

The real secret to change is to make sure you have a specific makeover plan designed to halt the behavior you want to stop.

But even before you can implement such a plan, you must first understand what you’re doing wrong—and why it’s wrong.” Here are a few of the most common discipline mistakes parents make so they don’t reap those long-term permanent results.

1. Thinking “It’s just a phase”

Bad attitudes don’t go away. They almost always need parental intervention. The longer parents wait, the more likely the attitude will become a habit. So don’t call it a “phase”: stop the bad attitude as soon as it starts so it doesn’t become a habit.

2. Being a poor model

Our behavior has an enormous influence on our kids’ attitudes and character. After all, what they see is what they copy. So before parents start planning to change their kid’s attitude, they need to take a serious look at their own.

Here’s your one question to ask yourself each night: “If my child had only my behavior to watch today, what would he have caught?”

Ah the guilt! But it’s the truth. Don’t undermine your influence! Children are little copycats and I swear arrive with video-recorders planted inside their heads. They’re videoing our behaviors and then mimicking them. (Big problem is they usually replay them at the most inappropriate moments like when the in-laws arrive. Right?) 3. Not targeting the bad attitude It’s best to work on improving only one—and never more than two—attitudes at a time. And the more specific the plan the better. Don’t say, “He has an attitude.” Instead, narrow the focus to target the specific behavior you want to eliminate: “He’s talking back.” And your attitude or behavior makeover will be more successful.

4. No plan to stop the bad attitude

Once parents have identified the bad attitude, they need a solid makeover plan to stop it. The plan must (1) address the kid’s bad attitude, (2) state exactly how to correct it, (3) identify the new virtue to replace it, and (4) set a consequence if the attitude continues.

5. Not teaching a new behavior to replace it

No attitude will change permanently unless the child is taught a new one to replace it. Think about it: if you tell a kid to stop doing one attitude, what will he do instead? Without a substitute virtue, chances are the child will revert to using the old bad attitude.

Anytime you want to stop your child’s negative behavior, you must tell him what you want him to do instead.

Sounds so simple, but we overlook it. Case in point: It’s the toy store aisle and the tyke is having a meltdown. The parent is begging the kid to “Calm down!” but not showing him how. If you want to stop one behavior, you need to show the child what to do instead.

6. Going alone

Big mistake! After all if your kid is using the bad attitude on other caregivers—be it spouse, grandparents, teachers, day care providers, coaches, scout leaders, babysitters—then use the same makeover plan together. The more you work together with others who care about your child, the quicker you’ll be in stopping the bad attitude. Even if the person only sees your child five minutes a week, that’s five more minutes to get on the same page and reinforce the same “right” behavior. Pass on your behavior plan.

7. Not sticking to the plan long enough

Learning new attitude habits generally takes a minimum of 21 days of repetition. Parents need to commit to changing the bad attitude and then continue using the plan for at least three weeks. Only then will they see change. Track your efforts on a monthly calendar. Why? Because the majority of parents admit that they tried a new plan, but didn’t stick to it long enough to reap the results. Your child will know you mean business, and you’ll gradually see behavior change. (Change never happens overnight – so hang in there!) Using proven solutions and implementing what I call “Results-Driven Parenting” (research-based responses that help parent for real and lasting for change) can make real differences on your children’s lives—especially when you choose ones that matter most in raising good kids. No more guesswork. These solutions are based on proven research. So roll of up your sleeves, and go parent! Best! Michele Borba Get more Parenting Solutions by following Michele Borba @MicheleBorba on Twitter or at her website: Michele Borba Portions of this article are adapted from Michele Borba’s latest book,The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Jossey-Bass) and it’s on sale now!