Public tantrums are often calls for negative attention from caregivers.

How to Parent With an Antisocial Child

by Damon Verial

Raising a child can be a handful; raising an antisocial child can be a bucketful. This is especially true if your child’s school or the local police decide to intervene in your family affairs. If you find your child beginning to walk that fine line between bad behavior and illegal behavior, it might be time to add some anti-antisocial parenting strategies to your repertoire.

1 Intervene early. The earlier you decide to address your child’s antisocial behavior, the less likely he is to grow up as an antisocial adolescent, become an antisocial adult or engage in illegal activity.

2 Use positive reinforcement to boost socially positive actions. Any form of positive reinforcement will work, so be creative. Ideas range from praising and increasing the attention you give your child to small gifts or points that the child can use in a reward system.

3 Discipline in response to antisocial behaviors. Though many moms might feel squeamish in response to the word “discipline,” when you have already developed a system of positive reinforcement for socially positive actions, discipline comes easy: It is the mere opposite of the positive reinforcement. For example, if you have developed a points system for your child, disciplining would be the taking away of points; if you give your child increased attention as positive reinforcement, disciplining would be the taking away of attention -- for many antisocial children, antisocial behavior is an intentional impetus toward negative attention, which is sometimes desirable for children. By reversing positive reinforcements, moms do not have to yell or say negative things while administering discipline.

4 Maintain consistency with your actions. Once you break consistency, the whole system falls apart. For example, if you give your child a gift to get him to stop screaming in a public place, you are reinforcing that action. This will lead to more screaming or louder screaming in the future. Stick with your decisions for positive reinforcements and punishments no matter how much willpower it takes.

Tip

  • Many schools offer programs to help with antisocial behaviors in children. Consult your school for information on such a program.

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