Top 10 Behavior Principles Parent Should Know

by | Sep 9, 2010 | Discipline & Behavior

Worried about your child’s behavior? Not getting the results you hope? Then maybe–just maybe–the strategies you’re using aren’t based on solid research. Bad behaviors can be changed if parents remember to apply ten basic and proven principles. Here are my “Top 10” that I repeatedly share with parents who are trying to alter their kids’ behavior – but because they aren’t using them, they don’t get the results.

Most behaviors … (not temperament or personality)…

1. Are learned. Some behaviors may be influenced by biological factors, but most are learned. That means parents make a huge difference in how their kids turn out.

2. Can be changed. Most behaviors can be changed by using solid research-based techniques.

3. Need intervention. Don’t expect your kid to change on his own. His behavior will most likely only get worse without your intervention, and then it will be even tougher to change.

4. Take time to change. Behavior change takes time: usually a minimum of 21-days of repetition.

5. Require commitment. Long-term commitment is necessary for any meaningful and permanent change. There’s no getting around it: parenting is tough work.

6. Must have a replacer or substitute. No behavior will change permanently unless you teach your kid another behavior to replace it. Think about it: if you tell your kid to stop doing one behavior, what will he do instead? Without a substitute behavior, chances are he’ll revert to using the old misbehavior.

7. Require a good example. Behaviors are learned best by seeing it done right. So make sure your behaviors or examples you provide are ones that you want your kid to emulate. I call that the “Boomerang Effect”: What you throw out to your kid is like a boomerang that comes back to hit you in the face.

8. Demand practice. Behavior change requires practice. So practice, practice, practice the new behavior with your child until he can do the new behavior on his own.

9. Benefit from encouragement. Behavior change is hard and deserves to be encouraged, acknowledged and celebrated. Encourage every step along the way. In fact, the fastest way to change behavior is by acknowledging what your child did right so he’ll be more likely to do know what to do to act right.

10. Are never too late to change. Even if the problem has been going on a long time, don’t despair. It’s never too late to make positive changes happen. And if you don’t get results after 21 days, the bad behavior increases or spills over to other areas then please pick up the phone and get help from a trained professional. Something else could be causing the problem. 

For specific solutions to the top 101 parenting challenges, new parenting responses to troublesome behaviors and specific “replacer” skills or substitute habits to teach your child, refer to The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

Once you have the book in front of you, flip to the table of contents, choose ONE troublesome, reoccurring issue only, and quickly review the behavior signs to help you determine the severity of the problem. Then go to step two, find the new parenting response that works best for you then consistently use it with your child. Finally, please don’t forget to review to Step Three: Find the one new habit you want to teach your child to replace the inappropriate one and don’t stop reviewing until you reap real and lasting change.

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

For more solutions refer to my daily blog, Michele Borba or follow me on twitter @MicheleBorba