Disruptive behavior in children can range from small behaviors that irritate parents, siblings and teachers to loud sounds and activity that draw attention to the child. Use complimentary activities -- such as prevention and replacement -- to prevent disruptive behavior. When you know your child's triggers for misbehavior, some problems can be prevented. You can replace some behaviors with proactive better behaviors that will get better results for your child. These, used over time, help prevent problem behavior.
1. Disruptive Behavior
Disruptive behavior is any behavior that slows appropriate activity or interrupts positive activities of others. It can occur at home, in the store or at school. It can cause fights between siblings, make your family unwelcome in public places and cause problems at school. Children who engage in disruptive behavior often do it to draw attention to themselves or to protest not getting the results from others that they desire. Small disruptions sometimes go unnoticed by parents and teachers, causing larger disruptions when a sibling or classmate responds negatively.
Whining, lagging behind or failing to engage in a desired activity such as getting dressed or writing an assignment can be caused by fatigue, hunger or being distracted by a sibling or classmate. If your child has a history of disruptive behavior, keep track of when it is most likely to occur. Key times for disruptive behavior include getting ready to leave the house, getting home at the end of the day or long shopping trips. If you know the times your child is likely to whine, grumble or explode, practice prevention such as packing school backpacks the night before or having healthy, fast snacks to tide hungry kids over to the next meal.
3. Replace the Behavior
Replace undesirable behaviors with desirable ones. Teachers often have a classroom rule that students should raise their hands and wait to be called on before speaking. They are replacing spontaneous speech with a signal and permission to speak. Parents can do similar things at home. For example, if your child has a habit of crying when told he cannot have an item, you might set an allowance that the child can spend as desired. This puts the child in control of her spending. If she runs out of money, she will quickly learn that she has to wait for her next "payday."
4. Clear Statements and Listening
In busy families, communication is often a problem. Five or six commands barked out while you are trying to unload a grocery bag might not be heard or understood by your child. When you take time to make sure your child heard you, the desired behavior is more likely to occur. Make directions a pleasant statement such as, "Please close the car door." By the same token, insist your child get your attention quietly, then listen to what she has to say.
- University of Oregan: Strategies to Discourage Disruptive Behavior
- Purdue Teaching Academy: Dealing with Disruptive Behavior
- University of Minnesota Duluth: Responding to Behavioral Disruptions in the Classroom Faculty and Staff Information
- University of Arkansas: Disruptive Behavior
- Child Mind Institute: Managing Problem Behavior at Home
- May Institute: Teaching Replacement Behaviors
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