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CCLD 301

Outcome: 301.3
Handout – Strategies for Managing Behaviour

1 Pre-empt the problem

If you see a difficult situation arising, distract the child to another and more desirable
activity. It is worthwhile keeping one or two of these up your sleeve for possible difficult

2 Give clear rules

Where possible, don’t only say what the rule is, but show the child how to behave. You are
a role model for children, especially if they value your opinion and view you as an
important person in their lives.

3 Give an early warning

If you are about to ask a child to change activities from a particularly pleasant to a less
pleasant one, giving an early warning can often prevent a heated reaction to your request.
For example, ‘In ten minutes time it will be clearing up time.’ Remember to carry out your
instruction: make sure that, after ten minutes, you insist it is time to clear up.

4 Exchange ‘bad news’ for ‘good news’

You can always make a disliked activity less unpleasant by pairing it with a more pleasant
one. For example, bedtime means story time as well.

5 Change the setting

Sometimes you can rearrange the furniture to a different place or a higher level or even,
when you are outside the house, involving the child in the activity – for example, shopping,
gardening, etc.

6 Introduce a secret prompt

If you and the child(ren) agree beforehand on a secret signal to act as a gentle prompt,
this can prevent a possible uncontrolled situation. This works better with older children.

7 Ignore ‘bad’ behaviour; praise ‘good’ behaviour

This is a fairly difficult plan to operate but it can be very effective if you persist. Obviously it
is not appropriate if the child is indulging in any kind of dangerous activity.

8 Catch the child being good

This is easy and very effective! For example, a compliment like ‘Nice to see you two
playing so well.’ is more effective than only giving attention when something goes wrong.

9 Restitution and over-correction

These have a certain natural justice. Restitution involves the child making good the
damage that has been done – for example, spilt liquids being mopped up. Over-correction
involves the culprit doing more than this – for example, tidying up the whole room after
throwing toys.

MACTAC ©2007
CCLD 301
Outcome: 301.3
Handout – Strategies for Managing Behaviour

10 Choose a reward
This should be used sparingly, or children may only behave if they believe they will be
rewarded. Rewards can be tangible – such as choosing an activity or a treat – or they can
be intangible – such as smiles of approval or a thumbs up sign.

11 Restraint
If a child’s behaviour really goes out of control, then some kind of restraint will be
necessary. Usually the adult holds the child for a short period of time to prevent the
unwanted behaviour. The child is released when the adult feels the child has calmed down
and is diverted to another activity. If the child persists in the previously disruptive
behaviour, then the technique is repeated until the child is diverted successfully and is
completely calm. The only risk that you need to be aware of with this technique is that the
firm cuddle can become a reward in itself.

12 Holding
This is similar to 11 above, but is used for real temper tantrums when children are quite
beside themselves and screaming so loudly they don’t hear anything you say. Hold the
child very tightly, controlling any flying limbs with your arms (and legs if necessary) until
the child has calmed. You can sing or rock the child, but don’t try to talk about why they’ve
got into such a state. Children in such a temper are usually frightened and the cuddle will
reassure them that you love them and that their temper can be controlled.

13 Time out
This involves actively removing the child from the problem situation or removing materials
that are being misused. It is one of the most powerful plans you can use and, before
deciding on this course of action, you really should have tried some of the simpler
techniques already mentioned. Consistency is absolutely crucial when using ‘time out’ and
even worse behaviour may occur when you first start to use it. It takes about a week to find
out if this is effective.

14 Teaching incompatible skills

The very best way of dealing with any kind of disruptive behaviour is to try to get the child
to carry out the ‘opposite’ skill – for example, you can’t shout if you are whispering, you
can’t slam a door if you’re trying to shut it as quietly as possible, etc.

All the time

Make sure that children are listening before you try to give them an instruction. This is best
done by calling the child’s name and making sure he or she is looking at you before
embarking on what you want to say.

MACTAC ©2007