How to Deal with Your Child's Inappropriate Behavior
By Dr. Michael G. Rayel
Children bombard parents with many challenging behaviors.
We are delighted if their behavior is mostly positive. But what
if your child constantly demonstrates negative behavior? How are
you going to deal with it?
It can get very frustrating for a mother who is
yelled at every time she says 'no' to a child. In my clinic,
I've seen parents who feel desperate when their son or daughter
who used to behave like a "saint" is now rebellious,
oppositional, and involved in drugs.
As a parent, what are your options?
Establish a Hierarchy of Consequences for
Different behaviors require varying degrees of
discipline. There is no single method effective for all
individuals and all types of unacceptable behavior.
One effective way of instilling order is by
creating a graduated form of discipline — from a simple and
effortless method to a more serious way of dealing with the behavior.
Ignoring the Behavior
Certain behavior becomes worse if you pay
attention to the child. Temper tantrum is one example. An
effective way to deal with some behavior like temper tantrum is
to ignore it. By doing this, you don't reward it with too much
This is the second line of offence against
inappropriate behavior. This type of discipline can deal with
the first infractions regardless of whether they are major or
minor. Granny gestures involve hand movements such as waving the
right pointing finger back and forth after an incident.
Immediately after an inappropriate behavior such as not cleaning
up or not making the bed, wave your pointing finger.
Counting One to Five
Counting one to five is the next level if your
child remains defiant or unresponsive to your granny gestures.
This process requires a reminder that the unacceptable behavior
still exists and if it continues after you count to five, then a
more serious form of consequence will be enforced. Also,
counting provides children the time to think and to realize
Time-out is a more serious form of discipline.
If the inappropriate behavior persists, you tell your child to
go to one corner of your house. The corner should be well lit,
safe, and not isolated. It should be a place where you can still
see what your child is doing.
What should be the appropriate duration for
time-out? In my opinion, the duration should depend upon the
nature of the infraction, the frequency of such infraction, and
the age of your child.
Taking Away Privileges
Taking away privileges requires that you first
identify your child's likes and interests at home and that you
take one or more of them away for a certain period of time as a
consequence of inappropriate behavior.
Take away the toy or activity that interests
your child. Taking away privileges should be time-limited,
realistic, and feasible.
Dr. Michael G. Rayel – author (First Aid to Mental
Illness–Finalist, Reader's Preference Choice Award 2002),
psychiatrist, and inventor of Oikos Game: An Emotional Intelligence
(EQ) Game. For more information about Oikos Game, visit
www.oikosgame.com. His books are available at major online