Talking With Your Child About Their Behavior

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

So you have a child (or 2 or 3...) whose behavior is disrupting the whole household. Guess what, it can get better! It's going to take some work. Your're going to need your child's buy-in. Depending on your child's maturity and language skills, you want them to be part of the solution. Elementary age kids should definitely be part of the planning process for behavior improvement, sometimes older preschool children can as well! Here are my basic steps when creating a parent-child behavior modification meeting.

1.Come up with an ideal time. Is your child most fresh and calm in the mornings or are they ready for a good talk around bed time? Find a time when the other kids are busy and you can have privacy. Include your parenting partner or another caregiver if applicable. If your child is in the middle of their "negative behavior" ie tantrum, back talk, or general super fun obnoxiousness, that is not the right time. Both you and your child have to be in a good place to create a plan for change!

2. When you start the meeting, set the town. Be explicit! "Your mom and I would like to have a chat with you about some different behavior we're seeing." "Dad and I have noticed that you seem really frustrated lately and we'd like to have a little meeting with you to see if we can help." Or something of that nature.

3. Keep your tone warm and inviting. You want your kid to be your "partner" in modifying thier behavior. If you aren't in a place where you can do this and you are concerned your tone may sound judgy, angry or frustrated. That's ok, you are human! However, recognize that it's not the time to have this conversation. Sometimes it's best to send your partner in for a solo convo if they feel less emotional (if applicable) and sometimes it means the timing isn't right and it's ok to wait.