The Better Behavior Challenge

How many times a day do you say "Stop that!" to your kids? Do you find yourself raising your voice, only to find that your kids still aren't listening? And no matter how many times you've told yourself you won't yell at your kids, are you still yelling? The parents of Parent Soup collectively decided, "There's got to be a better way," and dedicated March to a group exercise called the Better Behavior Community Challenge. The goal was to find ways to get kids to behave without resorting to yelling. Some of the best ideas appear below. And since this exercise proved helpful to so many people, Parent Soup has instituted a monthly community challenge (in April, it's the "Turn Off Your TV" Community Challenge) to help bring the lessons learned in the Soup into the real world.

Catch Them Being Good
"I have found that praising my kids when they are doing what I like encourages more of the same behavior. I try to ignore when they are really grating on my nerves (which is really hard to do). Kids love attention and they will do whatever they can to get it. If they get the most attention when they are doing 'acceptable' things, then they will do more of that behavior in order to continue getting attention."
--Parent Soup member Lnsg

Rewarding Good Behavior
"Something that helped with my son was a reward system for behavior modification. When he gets through a morning (or other specific time period) without a tantrum or acting out, he gets a star. The system works like this: Post a card on the refrigerator (or other public place) with a specific number of spaces on it (you decide how many to earn a prize of his choosing, such as a toy or special meal). Also post a picture of the prize next to the card as an incentive. When he fills the card with stars, he gets the prize. This worked for both my children, and it saved a lot of gray hairs for me."

--Parent Soup member Mary K H N

Consistency Is the Key
"Since my son was 1-year-old, I would say 'No' and physically get up and re-direct him, everytime. I would tell him why not, such as 'If you break that, I would feel hurt, I like it.' I would never raise my voice to him unless it was dangerous. My son takes my 'No' very seriously to this day. There is no waste of breath for me and no curiosity for him. It took a lot of work and time and burning the chicken, but it all paid off.
--Parent Soup member MizJones

Putting It Into Perspective
"Consider how many times a child must fall off a bike before he is able to ride it, or how many times he'll swing at a ball before he hits it with the bat. Whether a child is learning physical control or emotional control, mastering these skills takes time."
--Parent Soup member marisa

Try a Little Tenderness
"I changed my ways with my son and he changed his! My 4-year-old son started getting really out of control. I always used time outs and recently he started running away from me when I tried putting him in the time out spot. I next resorted to spankings (which I was hesitant about) but didn't know what else to do. Then of course I felt really bad after and we'd hug and I'd lose the battle. So, I decided it was time for a new approach: When he was acting like a maniac, I stopped and said 'Can we have a talk?' and to my surprise he said 'Sure, Mom' and sat right down. We talked about his behavior and how it was inappropriate and what type of behavior would be appropriate. It worked. I've been doing this for a few weeks now and it still works. So I learned that yelling and hitting and screaming is a waste of time. Kids like to be treated with respect as much as parents do."

--Lady, New York

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