My mum had a saying when we were young, ‘Too much of one thing is good for nothing.’ At the time I just thought it was another one of my mum’s weird Jamaican sayings. As I’ve become older, I realise that there is a lot of truth in what she said particularly in relation to positive behaviour.
Managing children’s behaviour can be a huge challenge and I relish the opportunities that I get to coach parents and run workshops that help them to better understand behaviour and encourage their children towards positive behaviour choices.
Too much of one thing really is good for nothing!
Too much freedom
A healthy home is one where some things are permitted and some things are not. Children need to be accustomed to hearing the word ‘no’ and parents need to be better able to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. Where there is too much freedom, children struggle to adjust to the limits placed around them at school.
Too much restriction
Children will be children and the expectations placed on them in terms of behaviour should be realistic. They need opportunities to express themselves physically and likewise occasions when they can make their views known and be helped to do this in a constructive way. Do you hear yourself constantly telling your children to: "Stop running!" 'Stop fighting!' 'Stop climbing!' 'Stop shouting!' Do you create sufficient and appropriate opportunities for your children (boys in particular) to engage physically with their environment?
Too much criticism
It is said that for every negative word that we hear, we need five positive words to reset the balance. This is so important for children. When it comes to behaviour it’s so easy to become fixated on the behaviour that doesn’t meet your expectations that you are slow to recognise the times when your children do the right thing.
Can you remember the last time you said ‘Well done’ to your child? Children note what you promote, so be sure to praise the behaviour that you do want to see as well as challenge the types that you don’t.
Too much praise
Yes that’s right, praise can be overused! Praise is a very effective tool for managing behaviour and making your expectations for behaviour clear, but be sure to guard against over-praising by using it for things that are of value that you wish to encourage in your children. For example if you value honesty and kindness, praise your children when they admit a mistake or play constructively with one another.
In addition, praise can be used to encourage behaviours that you want to see more of. Do your children play with their food? Praise them when they eat sensibly. Do they run in the house? Praise them when they walk. Do you get the idea? If you want to see more positive behaviour from your children, praise the positive behaviour that they already show.
Balance nurtures positive behaviour
I didn’t think I would ever admit this but… my mum was right – Too much of one thing is good for nothing! Children need balance – love and limits, rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts.
About the Author
Tracey Campbell is the Director of Together Transforming Behaviour Ltd. She provides training and coaching to teachers and parents and helps them manage children's behaviour.
She is also the Author of Behaviour Basics for Parents.