Behavioral management for middle-aged children should reflect their need for independence while still offering plenty of guidance. Even though children between the ages of 5 and 10 should be developing better control over their emotions, they are often known to display dramatic behaviors. Behavioral management for middle-aged children requires consistency and patience as they tend to test limits and can become easily sidetracked.
Routines and Structure
Oftentimes, providing simple structure will prevent a host of behavioral issues. Establish a schedule for your child, and be clear with your expectations. A regular routine can reduce noncompliance and arguments over homework, chores and electronics. Structure can also teach good habits as kids become used to doing what is expected of them. Create a clear list of rules and review the rules with your child. As your child grows and matures, adjust the rules to reflect age-appropriate responsiblities.
Praise and Attention
Although middle-aged children can be rebellious, they tend to also seek approval. The American Academy of Pediatrics' "Guide to Effective Discipline" suggests providing attention to increase positive behavior and "ignoring, removing, or withholding parent attention to decrease the frequency or intensity of undesirable behaviors." Ignoring mild misbehaviors, such as whining, can be effective as long as there is not an underlying cause that is impacting your child's behavior. If you suspect that your child is responding to a stressor in his life, do not ignore his behavior. Instead, seek out the root of the behavior. Your child should also receive positive attention for good behaviors. Praise your child's efforts, positive attitudes and compliance, and he will naturally be motivated to repeat those behaviors.
Rewards provide middle-aged children with an incentive to manage their behaviors. Provide your child with a small allowance for completing his chores, and he'll be motivated to do them again. Offer small rewards to address behavioral issues. A child who struggles to get his homework done each night might need some external motivation. Allowing him to earn time to play his favorite video game for completing his homework might just be the incentive he needs.
Natural and Logical Consequences
Breaking the rules should result in clear consequences. Logical consequences should be clearly related to the offense. If a child refuses to get out of bed on time, a logical consequence would be an earlier bedtime. Middle-aged kids can also benefit from natural consequences. If a child refuses to wear boots on a rainy day, the natural consequence is that his feet will get wet. Monitor natural consequences to ensure that such events become learning experiences.
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