What is normal behaviour for a child?
Normal behaviour in children depends on the child's age, personality, and physical and emotional development. A child's behaviour may be a problem if it doesn't match the expectations of the family or if it is disruptive. Normal or "good" behaviour is usually determined by whether it's socially, culturally and developmentally appropriate. Knowing what to expect from your child at each age will help you decide whether his or her behaviour is normal.
What can I do to change my child's behaviour?
Children tend to continue a behaviour when it is rewarded and stop a behaviour when it is ignored. Consistency in your reaction to a behaviour is important because rewarding and punishing the same behaviour at different times confuses your child. When your child's behaviour is a problem, you have 3 choices:
- Decide that the behaviour is not a problem because it's appropriate to the child's age and stage of development.
- Attempt to stop the behaviour, either by ignoring it or by punishing it.
- Introduce a new behaviour that you prefer and reinforce it by rewarding your child.
Why shouldn't I use physical punishment?
Parents may choose to use physical punishment (such as spanking) to stop undesirable behaviour. The biggest drawback to this method is that although the punishment stops the bad behaviour for a while, it doesn't teach your child to change his or her behaviour. Disciplining your child is really just teaching him or her to choose good behaviours. If your child doesn't know a good behaviour, he or she is likely to return to the bad behaviour. Physical punishment becomes less effective with time and can cause the child to behave aggressively. It can also be carried too far -- into child abuse. Other methods of punishment are preferred and should be used whenever possible.