Young children are like soft clay. Parents need to mold their personalities while the clay is still soft. This refers to the early years of life, when a child can readily absorb ideas and impressions set before him. After a certain point of time, the clay starts to harden. It is rather good if it has been shaped in the best manner by then, as it ensures permanency of shape. If the clay is still very haphazard when it hardens, it is too late to ingrain any positive changes. Experts in child psychology have recommended a set of tools to be used by parents to ensure positive behavior from their kids.
Toolkit for Inculcating Positive Behavior
You may or may not be aware of this, but children have a habit of copying words and actions of their parents and guardians. Say something foul and your child's innocent ears will grasp it quickly. Therefore, it is prudent to make use of words with care. Make sure to include positive words and actions while your children are around you. This includes talking respectfully with your spouse and children. Be careful to stay away from fights while your kids are around you. You can set a good example by performing a positive action and speaking its importance simultaneously. For instance, you can teach the importance of sharing by giving something to a family member or a friend while your child is around you. Make it a point to tell your child that it feels good to share things. Similarly, you can be a mirror of your child's thoughts too. If your child is too young to express his thoughts, then you can help by stringing sentences for them or by asking direct questions. This will help your child in absorbing your positive style of communication. Also, it will keep any possible temper tantrums in check.
As parents, you are required to be polite yet firm at the same time. Make sure that your child learns to respect your 'No'. Your child may test your patience initially, but be sure to stick to your word at all times. Avoid giving in to your child's demands, just to calm down the situation. You may use disciplinary methods like timeouts to make the child understand that his behavior is unacceptable. Make sure to talk politely to your child while you discipline him. Clearly express your feeling to the child if he speaks rudely or answers back to you. For instance, you might say something like, "I felt really hurt by what you just said." Emphasize on 'I' to make your child understands the depth of what you are saying. However, children learn most things by experience. Your child may develop extreme curiosity if you consistently refuse to grant him permission to do something. If your child's demand is not very serious, you may allow him to do what he wants while you are around. That way, you will be nearby to take care of the situation if things go wrong.
You may come across plenty of people who say that too much appreciation makes children arrogant. That may not always be true. It can cause a lot of resentment and negativity in your child's attitude. Child psychologists say that parents need to appreciate a minimum of six times against every criticism that they make. Keep a keen eye on your child's actions and appreciate your child with a compliment or a hug if you find something positive. Do not delay a positive reaction. Most parents fail to appreciate, but are sure to reprimand the child when he misbehaves. Timely appreciation helps the child recognize the kind of behavior expected of him. There is yet another class of parents who avoid giving positive as well as negative reactions. Your child seeks your attention at all times. And if you fail to give it, they are most likely to choose negative behavior to draw your attention.
Using Positive Body Language
Your body language has a huge impact when you are trying to ingrain positive behavior in kids. Considering your child's height, a parent standing straight while correcting mistakes, is often perceived to be authoritarian by the child. It is recommended that you bow down or sit next to the child while talking to him. Make sure that your eye level is the same. Avoid folding your hands in front of you or placing them on your hips. Maintain eye contact with your child when you speak to him.
Encouraging Healthy Talk
Children may resort to whining and tantrums as a means to get their wishes fulfilled. In such a case, it is best to make the child understand that whining will not change your mind. Encourage plenty of healthy discussion and be open to any positive suggestions from your child. Do not underestimate your child's logical skills. An open and free environment at home brings about a positive outlook and behavior in your child from early days.
Keeping Your Word
There is a popular proverb that goes, 'Promises are meant to be broken'. But this does not apply to the promises you make to your kids. Make sure to stick to your words when you promise something; whether it is a fishing trip or a Sunday lunch at your child's favorite restaurant. This refers to a warning too. At times, you may warn your child to behave in a particular way, or else you will take away his privileges like watching TV, etc. Your child may test you, but you need to stick to your warnings. This way, your child will learn to keep his promises. Never make promises of gifts for studying or for going to bed on time. If you do, your child may demand things as a bribe for doing whatever you say. Instead, make your child understand the importance of things that you ask him to do.
Allocating Simple Tasks
It is perfectly fine to allocate certain simple errands to your child. This helps your child learn something new and improve his skills over a period of time. Appreciate your child when he successfully completes the allotted task. Some common tasks might include cleaning his room, folding his laundry, watering the plants, setting the dinner table, helping you with shopping and so on. This practice will help to make your child independent in the long run. Also, he will learn to take full responsibility for completing his share of work on time.
Developing Social Skills
Expose your children to people by signing them up for summer camps or hobby workshops. This will help them to develop their interpersonal skills. They will learn to behave positively in public by learning to share things, accommodate others, develop good listening skills, etc. Most importantly, they will learn the importance of respecting and helping others.
Apart from teaching, guiding and disciplining, make ample use of humor in your daily routine for instilling positive behavior. This will help in building a friendly bond with your child in the long run.