Parenting Tips for Rough Behavior

Parenting Tips for Rough Behavior

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Every child has moments of bad behavior. Not following instructions, poor manners, or rambunctious actions are just a few examples, but parents can likely think of many more. It’s sometimes challenging to manage inappropriate behavior, especially in the moment. If bad behavior is chronic, it may impact a parent’s overall well-being, leading to a cycle wherein a parent’s lack of energy allows for the child’s behavior to worsen. This article will look at some of the evidence-based ways to stop that cycle and lessen rough behavior.

Remember parental self-care

Parents naturally tend to prioritize their children’s needs over their own. While that seems like the right thing to do at first glance, it is important to remember that parents are human and cannot simply excuse their own needs, even for the benefit of their child. Because of this, part of effective parenting is learning how to take a step back and prioritize self-care, especially when a child is behaving in a way that increases stress.

Parents may need to remember that taking time for themselves, prioritizing self-care, and staying attuned to their own needs are all part of good parenting. Granted, it’s not always possible to take that time at the exact moment it’s needed, especially if a child is acting out, but it’s still important to internalize this general theme: parents are people too, and they deserve to take care of themselves.

Boundaries and consequences


Most children push boundaries at some point, but children who frequently misbehave likely push boundaries more frequently than most. When learning to curb undesired behavior, it’s important to start by establishing clear, developmentally appropriate rules and expectations for behavior. It’s important to communicate those rules to the child clearly. If they are old enough, it may be helpful to print out a list of behavioral expectations and hang it in an area where children can read it easily. It’s often helpful to have a resource to quickly remind children about expectations for their behavior.

It’s also important to remain consistent with those expectations. No matter your mood, your child’s mood, or other factors, it’s vital to maintain the same basic expectations day to day. Similarly, the child should know what the consequences are if they don’t meet those expectations. Consequences should also be consistent. It’s important to stick to consequences even if they’re inconvenient.

Many parents focus too intently on adverse consequences and punishments like taking away privileges. However, evidence suggests that good behavior is promoted most strongly when parents use positive reinforcement to encourage proper behavior rather than trying to punish away bad behavior. Praise and, in some cases, small rewards should be offered when a child is meeting expectations, and larger rewards may be appropriate if they exceed expectations.

Understanding the Triggers of Misbehavior


Recognizing the triggers that lead to a child’s rough behavior is essential for effective intervention. Children often act out due to unmet needs or feelings of frustration, hunger, tiredness, or overstimulation. By identifying these triggers, parents can preemptively address them and reduce occurrences of negative behavior. For instance, ensuring that a child has a regular and predictable schedule for meals and sleep can help mitigate irritability that leads to outbursts.

Similarly, recognizing signs of sensory overload and providing a quiet space for downtime can help a child manage their reactions better. Being proactive rather than reactive can significantly improve a child’s behavior and emotional regulation.

The Role of Communication in Behavior Management

Effective communication is key to managing and improving child behavior. Parents need to engage in open and age-appropriate discussions with their children about expectations and the reasons behind them. This not only helps in setting clear guidelines but also in building a trusting relationship where the child feels understood rather than punished.

Techniques such as active listening, where parents give full attention to what their child is saying without rushing to correct or discipline, can foster better understanding and cooperation. This approach helps children feel valued and more inclined to follow guidelines and express themselves in acceptable ways.

Role Modeling as a Teaching Tool


Parents are the first role models children observe and learn from, making it crucial to exhibit the behaviors they wish to instill in their children. Demonstrating patience, empathy, and respect in everyday interactions provides a live example for children to emulate.

For example, showing how to handle conflict calmly and constructively teaches children effective interpersonal skills. Similarly, parents taking responsibility for their mistakes, like apologizing for a raised voice, teaches children accountability. Role modeling goes beyond telling children what to do—it involves showing them how to be.

Technology and Behavior: Setting Limits and Encouraging Positive Use

In today’s digital age, technology can greatly influence children’s behavior. Parents need to set boundaries around the use of gadgets, like limiting screen time and monitoring content to ensure it’s appropriate for their child’s age. Encouraging educational and interactive content can turn screen time into an opportunity for learning and skill development.

Furthermore, involving children in discussions about the pros and cons of technology fosters critical thinking and responsible use. Parents can also encourage technology-free time, promoting activities that help in physical, mental, and social development, thus balancing the digital and real-world interactions of their children.

Fostering positivity


Good behavior is more likely when a positive, encouraging atmosphere is provided for a child. Promoting empathy through instruction and modeling is an important part of improving behavior. Instruction simply means talking to a child about how they can improve and having them think of alternative behaviors or ways to get what they want that may be more appropriate.

However, perhaps even more important is the modeling of kind, empathetic behavior. Children who see their parents or caregivers engage in empathetic communication are more likely to use it themselves.

It’s also important to provide children with healthy, positive outlets for their behavior. Activities like sports, creative arts, or group programs may help improve behavior by letting children gain positive social interactions, express themselves, or burn off extra energy.

Positive outlets can also be used to help provide structure and routine, which may be especially important if bad behavior comes following adverse circumstances like a divorce. For more tips about coping with divorce, a very common cause of behavioral problems, check out this article from BetterHelp, an online therapy provider.

About Adam Miller