Updated: Apr 5, 2021
It's amazing how simply reviewing the rules before each activity will help improve a child's behaivor.
Any good teacher knows you must review the rules of good behavior before each and every activity. For example, before I took my students to an assembly, I ALWAYS reviewed the rules of how I expected them to behave. I specifically told them what they could and could not do. I also was very specific about what consequence they would get if they broke the rules.
I did this for everything. Each time we were about to do an activity, I quickly reviewed the rules. I did this before recess, lunch, centers, etc. I wanted to remind them how I expected them to act. I also wanted to remind them what would happen to them if they didn’t obey.
As parents, you can do the same thing. It's amazing how simply reviewing the correct rules of behavior before a certain activity takes place will help a child behave nicely. So before you go anywhere or do anything, simply remind them how you expect them to act. Be sure to also mention what will happen if they break a rule.
For instance, before you go to the mall, prepare your child how to behave. Your conversation might sound like this: “Emma, remember how you are supposed to behave at the store. I want you to stay right beside me. Do not wander away from me and do not touch anything. Remember also, you are not allowed to throw a fit. If you do, I will immediately take you out to the car and ______.” (Name a specific consequence of your choice.)
“Now, let's review. Are you going to wander away from me? Are you allowed to touch anything? What's going to happen if you throw a tantrum in the store?"
Be sure to be very specific about the correct behavior. Instead of giving a vague, general statement such as, "Be good in the store," you need to tell them specifically what 'being good' means. Can they touch things - or not? Do they have to stay right beside you - or not? Can they ask you to buy them something - or not? Spend several minutes instructing them in exactly what they may and may not do.
The most important thing to remember is to back up your words! If you tell your children that you will take them immediately to the car to receive a consequence if they throw a fit, by golly, do it! You will only have to do it one to three times before they know you mean what you say. If you don't follow through on your threat, however, expect more bad behavior. They’ll know through experience that they can get away with stuff.