When your child has a behavioral learning problem, you may feel helpless or frustrated as a parent. It may be hard to decide how to react to your child, or how to administer effective discipline. It may also be hard to tell whether your actions are having a positive or negative effect on your child. Here are a few simple suggestions for improving a behavioral learning problem.
Have a plan. Being aware of the behavioral learning problem gives you time to decide how to handle behaviors before they occur. Determine ways in which the undesired behaviors can be prevented. Use what you know about your child and their behaviors to prevent as much of the behavioral problem as you can. Of course, since it’s unreasonable to expect to control every situation, planning what action you will take during misbehavior is the next logical step. If you are able to envision yourself acting in a calm, collected manner, then you are more likely to react that way in a real-life situation. By planning your reaction you will help reduce the chance that you will react to an unexpected or shocking behavior in an unproductive manner. Finally, plan what actions you will take following the misbehavior. For example, will your child respond better if you take a brief timeout before addressing the situation, or do they need an immediate response?
Consider punishment carefully. When a punishment for behavioral learning problem is necessary, be sure that it is logically connected to the behavior. For example, if your child refuses to put his shoes on, the consequence is that he is not allowed to play outside. When administering a punishment, it should be made abundantly clear that the behavior is bad, not the child. Carefully choose the type of punishment that your child will best respond to over the long-term.
Understand your child’s motivation. This can be difficult, but is well worth the effort. When you understand why your child is exhibiting certain behaviors, you can be better prepared both to prevent and handle the behaviors. Consider whether the misbehavior is proactive or reactive. If your child’s behavior is rewarding in itself, or creates a desired outcome, then the behavior is proactive. However, if the behavior is meant to rebel against or avoid something, then the behavior is reactive. Your response to the child’s behavior should change depending upon their motivation.