How to raise a well-behaved child

People always say that having a child will change your life in ways you could never imagine. And they are entirely correct. Everything you do changes from the day your child comes into your life. Your sleeping patterns change, the food you eat changes, your idea of entertainment changes. Sure, after your little one is no longer so little, you have some control over your life again. But it will never be the same as it was before you first held your child. And that’s a good thing. Because, if you choose to bring a little one into your family, your whole perspective on life will change.

Your priorities will also change. Whether you decide to have a child through pregnancy or through adoption in South Africa, you’ll find that your little one and their well-being will come first from the moment they come into your life. And your child’s well-being includes their behaviour. Some people may be wondering how the way a child behaves could influence their well-being. Well, it’s simple really. Your little one will be dealing with people throughout their life and if they don’t know how to communicate and act appropriately, they could end up in a lot of trouble.

So, if you’re wondering how to encourage your child to behave in the best way possible, here are some tips to help you along the way.

Make sure they know the rules

If a child doesn’t know the rules to begin with, how can they follow them? They’re not going to automatically know not to throw a ball around the kitchen or run with scissors. You have to make every rule in your household as clear as possible. Obviously, you can’t teach them everything at once and you don’t have to. Different rules will apply as they grow older, so you can start with the simple ones when they’re a toddler. Since they can’t read, you can’t exactly write out a list of rules and stick it on the fridge. But you can make a fun song and encourage your little one to sing along.

Learn to say no from the beginning

When your rules say “no sweets” until after dinner, you can’t simply hand over a piece of chocolate in the afternoon because they gave you a sweet smile. You need to learn to say no. And it will be incredibly difficult because you love your child and you think they’re the cutest thing ever. That’s why, when they say please in their sing-song voice, all you want to do is give in. Just don’t do it. Children need to know that no means no and it’s non-negotiable. If you give in to them now, they’ll think they can get away with it later and when they can’t, they’ll be upset, their feeling might even be hurt.

Don’t give in to tantrums, even when it’s really embarrassing

Grocery shopping with a child is one of the worst things. They see something they want and they decide they have to have it. It becomes a life or death situation for them. If they can’t get that sweet or that toy truck, they’re going to lose their minds. And they’re going to do it publicly. They’ll scream and shout, kick their feet and throw everything out of your shopping trolley. Ignore it. Pick up what you need to and walk away. Do not give in to tantrums. Of course, don’t walk too far away from them, keep them in eyesight (even though you’d probably like to pretend they don’t belong to you). Giving in to tantrums, even once, will make them think they have a chance of getting what they want by causing mayhem.

Help them learn how to express themselves in a positive manner

It’s important your child learns that tantrums will get them nowhere. But it’s also important that they learn to express themselves in a positive way. This doesn’t simply mean teaching them to say “please” and “thank you”. It also means they need to find outlets for their anxiety (yes, children have anxiety too), frustrations, sadness and happiness. Supplying them with the means to be creative is one way to do this. Perhaps you could turn one of the walls in their bedroom into a giant chalkboard. If that’s not possible, some large paper, crayons and even paint could do the trick. As they get older and the mess gets less, you could also encourage them to experiment with clay.

Teach them that their actions have consequences

This is extremely important and will serve them well later on in life. Teach your little one that when they do something wrong, there will be a consequence. It could be taking away a favourite toy of theirs for a certain period of time, cancelling a fun day out that you’ve planned for them or even just denying them their dessert after dinner.