Behavior management is essential in the success of any classroom. Teachers work hard to establish behavior management systems that are clear and concrete so students will know what to expect. In the beginning of the year, teachers often ask students to develop a list of rules that should be in place so the classroom can be a safe and comfortable environment in which to learn and grow. Surprisingly, children are very good at making up rules! Many children enjoy having rules as they establish boundaries within the classroom community and make kids feel safe. This, of course, can be done at home as well.
Begin by encouraging your child to brainstorm as many rules as he thinks are necessary. The next day, return to the list reminding your child that it can be hard to remember rules if there are too many and narrow the list down to four to six basic rules. Be sure to word the rules in a positive way. Avoid starting rules with "no" or "never." Rather than writing, "No running in the house," rewrite the rule to read, "Walk at all times in the house."
Find a place in your home to post the rules so that you can refer to them if a rule is being broken. "Having the children involved in the whole process is important. Too often we tell children what the rules are but don't explain why the rules are in place. Involving children in the process of making rules helps them understand why the rules are important and why they need to be followed," says Stadler.
Brainstorming basic house rules naturally leads to a conversation about what should happen when the rules get broken. Ask your child what he thinks is a reasonable or logical consequence for breaking house rules. Often good consequences include the suspension of a privilege (watching a favorite show or playing with a favorite toy), a time out, or taking away something for a concrete amount of time. Additionally, decide if a warning system should be in place. Allowing even your youngest child to participate in this conversation gives him ownership in the process. He is more likely to follow the rules and respond to any warnings if he knows the consequence of misbehavior.
While it may seem like a lot of work to put this system in place, the rewards are worth it. Establishing a structured behavior management system can take the emotion out of dealing with poor behavior. When you see a rule being broken, calmly give your warnings, remind your child of the consequences, and move forward. If you do find it necessary to give a consequence, your child will know what to expect. It is vital that parents remain calm and matter of fact. Once the child has taken the consequence, move on by reminding your child that we all make mistakes and she is now starting with a fresh slate.