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Developing Socially Appropriate Behavior In Children
by Stephen A. Peterson 
10/04/11
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Developing Socially Appropriate Behavior In Children
© 2011

by

Stephen A. Peterson


In small group parenting seminars, one of the most requested topics is “How To Rear Personally And Socially Responsible Children” without harmful results. Teaching limits or boundaries require parents be patient and proactive throughout the years they rear their child beginning at birth until they gain legal adult status generally at age 18 years.

Child Developmentalists and behaviorists have observed and researched child rearing styles and strategies for roughly 70 years. They recommend the following:

1. Recognize that all human learning is a slow process that differs from person to person. This is especially true for children who have no foundation for which to base what is appropriate behavior and what is not.

2. Explain any rules that are made. Any rule must be clear and brief. It is not a bad idea to print and post the rule on a poster or poster board for the child to see the rule in written form. Go over the rule then ask her or him what it means. In this way, the parent can quickly clear up any confusion.

3. Give the child the chance to use the rule in as many situations as possible. If a parent is trying to teach respect to authority, show her/him what you mean by “authority” by explaining that her/his teacher is someone in “authority” as well as a police officer, firefighter and so forth. A parent should never assume a young child can differentiate these differences.

4. Teach one rule at a time. This is to make certain that the child has mastered previous rules. Reason learning is generally slow. Putting too many rules in place without time to learn them will almost certainly frustrate and confuse a child. Your result is likely to be confusion at first then rebellion if they cannot make sense of the rule.

5. Be consistent when defining what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behavior. What is wrong today must be wrong tomorrow. Many parents destroy their authority through being inconsistent then wonder why their child is out of control.

6. Be loving. Child will make mistakes. It is inevitable. Remember they are learning. Whether parents know it or not a child looks to you to be fair and firm. But let them know verbally that your love for them is unconditional. That is, there is nothing they can do to lose your love for them.

7. Verbally praise your child as often as possible. Telling a child regardless of age pays more in dividends than you will ever know. Occasionally giving a child a token of your appreciation (i.e. new CD; $5.00 and the like) won’t spoil her or him if their accomplishment was a very challenging task.

8. Limit punishment. When it is clear to the child and the parent that a child has defied the parent intentionally, children expect to be disciplined. The discipline though must fit the violation followed by what the expects in the future in the area of offense.

9. A parent must be calm. The discipline must be impersonal and objective. A Child must never conclude that he or she is being disciplined out of anger or revenge. Being fair and firm in a loving manner that are without conditions are found to be the winning formulae with the majority of children.


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