How to modify your child's behaviour positively.

If I write something and people read it with interest, I will continue doing so. If I write and nobody reads or even take a note of it, I may continue writing for while and if still my work remains unnoticed, gradually I will discontinue. Similarly if I dance, however graceful but if no one claps/appreciate/watch I will discontinue dancing. If I shout in rage and no one reacts/responds I will stop shouting.
We all humans have a basic tendency to be noticed. We all are attention seeking creatures. We usually do and repeat those behaviours that attract attention of others, so are our children. But the difference between us and our children is we can control them as per the situation, place, time and person. More over we can differentiate between right & wrong, black & white, good & bad. Our children have limitations to differentiate between right & wrong, black & white, good & bad – for them getting attention by any means is the only and most important thing. So whichever behaviour is attended/noticed/discussed, children keep on repeating that behaviour.  
Behaviour Modification Technique is based on this basic human mentality.
One more thing we need to know is the difference between a person and his behaviour. We all are at a different emotional and functional levels at a different given time and in a different situations. We may respond to a similar situation differently at different time and that depends upon our psyche at that particular moment. If I shout at some particular person today that does not mean that I am always like that. This was a temporary behaviour for a temporary period of time. As a person I am different and I behave differently in different situations. Till the moment we are alive our existence as a person is a permanent phenomenon and our behaviour-a temporary phenomenon. This applies to our children as well. Let us not mix the permanent with the temporary.
To understand and manage our children constructively we need to separate our children from their behaviours. We will stop labelling our children. We will not call them by their behaviour (i.e. stubborn, arrogant….) instead we need to explain that this behaviour of yours is unacceptable.
The parents of younger children can transfer their feelings through gestures and body language. As such also verbal communication is just 7%, 93% communication is nonverbal i.e. through gestures, body language, tone, eyes etc... Even smileys can be used to respond to child's behaviour.
Many times we evaluate our children's behaviour according to our set standards and expectations. It needs to get evaluated according to child's age, personality, physical development and emotional development. Knowing what to expect from your child at each age will help you decide whether his or her behaviour is normal or not. We need not be judgemental by some sporadic incidences of unusual behaviour, there can be some micro happening which nobody can identify so it is better to keep calm and observe. If some particular behaviour is getting repeated consistentantly then think of changing it positively.
The best way to stop unwanted behaviour is to ignore it and attend the child when the child is doing desirable activity. Not attending the unacceptable and attending & encouraging the desired will help the child develop positively. To ignore, either leave the place or continue doing something else. Be careful not to react. Watch your non-verbal communications as well. Be consistent in doing so. If you do not attend the unwanted at one time and attend it the other time the child will get confused. If more than one behaviours need to be changed, make a list and prioterise them. Deal with one at a time.
Very important for you while using Behaviour Modification Technique;
·         Relax
·         Be cool and calm
·         Decide what exactly you want from the child.
·         Be patient
·         Make it very clear to your child.*
·         Be firm while talking/explaining to your child.*
(Last two marked with * may not be possible with younger children)
While attempting to stop the behaviour by ignoring, introduce a new behaviour that you prefer and reinforce it by rewarding.
1.  Reward System:
 Children who learn that bad behaviour is not tolerated and that good behaviour is rewarded are learning skills that will last them a lifetime. This works best in children older than 2 years of age. Do not get disheartened, it helps in younger children as well but the rewards would be a bit different. It can take up to 2 months or at times even more to work. Being patient and keeping a diary of behaviour can be helpful to parents.
Choose a behaviour you would like to change (for example, bedtime habits, toilet training, temper tantrums, tooth brushing, throwing things, becoming violent or picking up toys).
Choose a reward your child would enjoy. Examples of good rewards are an extra bedtime story, delaying bedtime by half an hour, a preferred snack or head of the house for few hours or say for a day, favourite piece of music, a favourite piece of audio-visual, extra & playful bathing time, a tight hug, gentle caressing with finger tips or feather, for older children, earning points toward a special toy, a privilege or a picnic.
Explain the desired behaviour and the reward to the child. For example, "If you get into your pajamas and brush your teeth before this TV show is over, you can stay up a half hour later." Request the behaviour only one time. If the child does what you ask, give the reward. You can help the child if necessary but don't get too involved. Because any attention from parents, even negative attention, is so rewarding to children, they may prefer to have parental attention instead of a reward at first. Transition statements, such as, "In 5 minutes, play time will be over," are helpful when you are teaching your child new behaviours.
This system helps you avoid power struggles with your child. However, your child is not punished if he or she chooses not to behave as you ask; he or she simply does not get the reward.
Some good ways to reward the child
Beat the Clock
Ask the child to do a task. Set a timer. If the task is done before the timer rings, your child gets a reward. To decide the amount of time to give the child, figure out your child's "best time" to do that task and add 5 minutes.
Giving a STAR:
I found this the most effective amongst all, you may find something else. First you decide whether you want to monitor on a daily basis or weekly. This again depends upon how frequently the child behaves in that particular manner which you want to change.
Mark the chart with a star each time you see the good behaviour. After your child has earned a small number of stars (depending on the child's age), give him or her reward. Below is the chart you can make for daily monitoring. You can decorate with stickers and glitters and lot many things. I am not good at drawing so I just tried to show you in the simplest form.
9:00-12:00 AM

12:00-3:00 PM

3:00-6:00 PM

6:00-9:00 PM

Similarly if you want to monitor weekly, below is the chart.







You can create many combinations to reward your child with a STAR. You can choose two colours, one for bad and one for good behaviour.
Good Marks/Bad Marks( For very active or younger children)
In a short time (about an hour) put a mark on a chart or on your child's hand each time you see him or her performing a good behaviour. For example, if you see your child playing quietly, picking up toys, solving a puzzle or reading a book, you would mark the chart. After a certain number of marks, give your child a reward. You can also make negative marks each time a bad behaviour occurs. If you do this, only give your child a reward if there are more positive marks than negative marks. You can make happy gestures, give smileys, draw a smiley on child's hand, stick a sticker, make some happy sound etc...
Developing Quiet Time
Ask your child to play quietly alone or with a sibling for a short time (maybe 30 minutes). Check on your child frequently (every 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the child's age) and give a reward or a token for each few minutes they were quiet or playing well. Gradually increase the intervals (go from checking your child's behaviour every 2 to 5 minutes to checking every 30 minutes), but continue to give rewards for each time period your child was quiet or played well.

The reward need to be in kind and not material. The reward need to be appropriate and in accordance with the gain. We have to watch the frequency, our children are smart enough to black mail us. If you need to reward frequently, you have succeeded in changing the behaviour positively. Now you will have to change your strategy a bit, if you have designed the chart for a day; change that to a week then to a month. Switch to the next in your list.
 When you want the behaviour to stop immediately, you can use the time-out method.
2.    Time-out method
Decide ahead of time the behaviours that will result in a time-out (usually tantrums, or aggressive or dangerous behaviour). Choose a time-out place that is uninteresting for the child and not frightening, such as a chair, corner or playpen. When you're away from home, consider using a car or a nearby seating area as a time-out place.
When the unacceptable behaviour occurs, tell the child the behaviour is unacceptable and give a warning that you will put him or her in time-out if the behaviour doesn't stop. Remain calm and don't look angry. If your child goes on misbehaving, calmly take him or her to the time-out area.
If possible, keep track of how long your child's been in time-out. Set a timer so your child will know when time-out is over. Time-out should be brief (generally 1 minute for each year of age), and should begin immediately after reaching the time-out place or after the child calms down. You should stay within sight or earshot of the child, but don't talk to him or her. If the child leaves the time-out area, gently return him or her to the area and consider resetting the timer. When the time-out is over, let the child leave the time-out place. Don't discuss the bad behaviour, but look for ways to reward and reinforce good behaviour later on.
3.   Physical restriction
If a child tries to beat someone or tries to snatch hairs or arms of someone, do not scold or scream. Instead just hold his/her hand for 30 seconds taking care about the child not being hurt. Still if the child continues the same behaviour, hold the hand again for 30 seconds. The things, occasion, situation & the child automatically get settled down in a while. This cool behaviour of the parent would have a great & positive impact on such behaviour of the child.

At times it is not possible to handle certain behaviours like, if a child is afraid of darkness. How to correct this?
In such situations we need to break the ultimate goal into few smaller goals. This is known as TASK ANALYSIS. I will write about this in my next blog.

Our children follow us so their behaviour depends a lot on our behaviour.
·        Avoid power struggles.
·        Don't react but respond, take your own time to do so.
·        Accept your child's basic personality
·        Consider child's psyche on a priority concern, he may be tired, unwell, hungry...
·        Don't criticize especially in front of others. If at all you need to condemn, condemn the behaviour and that too when the child is alone.
·        Give close ended choices when it is not possible to allow your child to choose totally on his own i.e. would you like to solve this animal puzzle or the fruit puzzle?
·        Involve the child in house hold work like making monthly lists, house hold rules etc.
·        Be careful while using the words 'sorry', 'thank you' or 'please' when you want your child to modify his behaviour positively. Using these words inappropriately can reverse the role and your child may feel as if he is the authority. If at all it is needed use these words keeping the authority with you.
Please please avoid physical harms....


  1. Nice Nina ma'am...i can already relate to a lot of these which i have been practicing for a while like star as reward and no reaction as best reaction...a lot more that i can take from the write-up...thank you.

  2. Thank u Nina mam posting this topic.. it will help me a lot.. i get more ideas for modify his behaviour. .

  3. Thanks for ur ideas nina mam...
    It will help us alot

  4. Great ideas Mam will definitely reinforce them on my child...

  5. Great ideas Mam will definitely reinforce them on my child...

  6. Very clearly explained Behaviour modification techniques for parents. Helpful for parents of special children.

  7. Very clearly explained Behaviour modification techniques for parents. Helpful for parents of special children.

  8. Thank you mam, I m applying some of them and got many more.

  9. Thank you mam, I m applying some of them and got many more.

  10. Great mam thanks... Now a days I am very confuse with my Son's behave but after reading this I got new Idea and energy.. How to deal with him...

  11. Great mam thanks... Now a days I am very confuse with my Son's behave but after reading this I got new Idea and energy.. How to deal with him...


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