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Games to Correct Child Behavior Problems

by Erica Loop, studioD

Child behavior problems run the gamut from mild moodiness to more severe issues such as bullying. While lectures or punishment may seem like the first line of discipline, these often harsh tactics may only serve to further agitate the child. Instead of focusing on the negative, turn your child around with games to correct behavior problems.

Fill in the Blank

According to child development expert Dr. William Sears, praise is a key way to shape positive behaviors. When your child acts out, use a combination of praise and a fill-in-the-blank game to turn the negatives into positives. When your child misbehaves, ask her to stop and tell you what she is doing wrong (or what the unacceptable behavior is). Change up your child's explanation and add a fill-in-the-blank option at the end for her to improve on. If she says, "I got angry because you won't let me watch TV, so I slammed my door," change it to, "I got angry because you won't let me watch TV, so I (fill in the blank)." She should add in something such as, "Talked to you about my feelings and made a compromise." Every time she is able to substitute a negative with a positive, provide specific praise such as, "I am proud of the way you expressed your emotions."

Temper Tantrum Tamers

While most parents tend to think of temper tantrums as a toddler behavior, older children can also engage in these outbursts. According to KidsHealth, grade schoolers may still have the occasional tantrum due to frustration or trouble dealing with angry emotions. When your child has a tantrum, try a physically engaging game that can help her to get the frustration out in a safe way. Put on fast, upbeat music and have her dance, hold an energetic relay race in the yard, play a game of kick ball or hit a tennis ball together.

Follow the Leader

The KidsHealth website notes that children learn from watching their parents and other adult role models. Use this to your advantage when creating games to correct your child's misbehavior. While follow the leader may seem like a little kids' game, take it to a new level for your grade school, or older, child. Make a list of behaviors that are opposite from your child's unacceptable ones. Act out these positive behaviors and have your child follow you every step of the way. If she is quick to hit her sister when they argue, stage a mock argument and use your words in an appropriate way. Have your child act out this scenario after you, following what you did and said.

Multiple Choice

Multiple choice activities aren't just for tests at school. You can try a multiple choice game with your child to correct her behavior issues. According to PBS Parents, providing a child with choices can help her feel more in control. This may help to reduce frustration, anger or emotional outbursts. When your child misbehaves, don't just give her your own idea of discipline. Instead, offer a multiple choice game for her to choose how to correct her actions. If your child talks back, don't immediately jump to tell her that she is grounded from watching TV for the night or can't use the computer. Provide her with at least three options to choose from that will help her to make a change, such as a heart-felt apology to you, rephrasing her issue in a socially-appropriate way or waiting until she can calm down before speaking.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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