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Good Parenting Takes Time!

The professionals at Boys Town believe that a child's behavior - good or bad - is learned. Therefore, the child's behavior can be unlearned. Parents should not lose heart when behavior changes don't occur overnight. Think about this: Learned behavior takes a lot of practice and modeling to acquire, and change doesn't happen by waving a magic wand over children and - "abracadabra" - they act the way you want.

It is the wise parent who knows that anything worth teaching a child takes effort and, often, hard work! So what should you take into consideration when you want to change your child's behavior?

  1. How much TIME you spend teaching your children what you don't want instead of what you do want.

    DON'T waste time telling children what you don't want them to do or threatening them with a consequence you may not give.

    DO show and describe behavior you want to see and give a reasonable consequence. For example, you might start by saying, "What I want you to do is sit calmly... and because you are teasing your sister... you earned this as a consequence."
  2. Examine how you communicate with your child most of the TIME and decide if your communication is changing your child's behavior for the better.

    DON'T waste time using vague parenting skills that are hard for you to back-up and even harder for your child to understand.

    DO say what you mean and mean what you say. Use a serious but calm tone when correcting behavior. For example, you might say, "I know it's hard, but right now I want you to stop talking and take a deep breath."
  3. Review whether the consequences you are using are actually changing your child's behavior over TIME.

    DON'T always pay your child off with money, gifts, snacks, etc., for good behavior. You will end up creating a "give-me-junkie."

    DO use non-tangible consequences such as encouragement, attention and time spent together as motivators for good behavior. Most children by age 5 have more toys then they can play with and more than their parents can house. Motivate your children by spending time with them. The memories you make will never break or fade. For instance, spend time fishing with your 6-year-old the next time he comes home with a positive report from school.

    DON'T over-use one particular consequence - positive or negative; it may backfire on you. If you always send your child to his or her room as a punishment, but the problem continues, switch your consequences. The over-use of any consequence can render it useless.

    DO use a variety of consequences to keep your child interested and energized about changing his or her behavior.

REMEMBER: Slow, consistent change is the best kind because it is often more lasting.