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Behavior Management, From Classroom to Home

We as adults have come to know actions involved in doing a good job or behaving. As teachers all over the country start a new school year, one of their first priorities is to establish a good, workable behavior management environment for their class. Four key elements in setting up a behavior plan that have always worked for my classes are:

  • Be specific
  • Be consistent
  • Have follow-through
  • Be kind yet firm

Young children don’t have our adult basis of comparison. Often, they don’t know where to start when asked to “be good” or behave. Parents can set up a simple yet very effective behavior management system for home by following some of these simple guidelines that work in classrooms.

  • Keep requests clear and simple. Consider describing exact behaviors expected. Don’t say “Please be good at Nana’s house today,” as that might be too vague for a child to process. Instead say, “Today at Nana’s house you need to pick up all your toys as soon as she asks you.”
  • Consistency. If your child’s bedtime is 8 p.m. on school nights, try your best to stick to it. If he’s resistant or needs to calm down, try reading a book 10-15 minutes before as part of the routine. You can be more flexible on weekends, vacations, etc.
  • Follow-through. Follow-through is the most important piece of any successful behavior management plan. Make consequences fit the expectation, and focus on the positive. For example, “If your homework is done by 5:30, we will be able to play catch before bedtime.” Presenting a child with a consequence and following through helps ensure that your child will take you seriously, and know that you mean what you say.
  • Be kind, yet firm. Children recognize when they are not following the rules.  Kindness is often an unexpected and powerful response.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain, who wrote, “One can always show kindness, even when there isn’t fondness.” Responding with a simple, “I’m very sorry that you feel that way, but this is what we have to do.” Or neutral phrases, stated firmly and then calmly repeated, such as “Oh, we don’t do that in room 9” can be very effective.  
Be specific and don’t mince words. If your child clearly understands your instructions when presented in a calm and direct manner, the chances of cooperation are greatly enhanced!

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