Teaching your kids to share and to get along with other kids can often be a challenge. Even if your son or daughter is well behaved 99% of the time, that 1% of the time when he or she is told to play nicely or to share a toy and melts down…it can be wearing on any parent’s soul. If you’ve been dealing with the “Don’t Wanna!”s and the “I WON’T!”s, here are some of the things you can try.
Team sports are a great way to teach your kids good sportsmanship, sharing, getting along well and working as part of a team. You would be amazed at what the right baseball bat can do when handed from a talented coach to an otherwise unruly kid. Most team sports have teams and leagues set up specifically for younger kids—even kids as young and three can start doing peewee soccer or t-ball.
If you don’t think that your son or daughter is quite ready for the regimentation of a team sport, you might consider putting together play groups or play dates with other families in the neighborhood. Introducing other kids one or two at a time keeps the experience from being overwhelming. What’s more the punishment of going home might be enough to help your child figure out that good behavior is the best behavior.
One of the best ways to teach an unruly child to, for lack of a better term, “play nicely” is to positively reinforce his good behavior. This doesn’t have to be much. A simple “I’m very proud of you for sharing your toys” or “Good job, buddy, the way you worked with your friend to build that fort was awesome!” might be enough to start showing your child that good behavior is the goal. Be careful not to go overboard. You don’t want your daughter expecting a new toy every time she allows her little sister to use her crayons.
For some children, positive reinforcement isn’t enough and you’ll have to start implementing some kind of discipline strategy to discourage the bad behavior as well as encourage the good. This can be tricky because everybody has a different opinion as to what sort of discipline works best. The key to success here is to really know your children. Just because the time-out method works for your friend’s son does not mean that it will work with your daughter. She might be the type of kid for whom taking away privileges works best.
Whatever route you choose to go, remember: every child is unique and there might be an underlying reason for the bad behavior. Often figuring out the core cause is what will help you figure out how to best counteract the bad behavior. Good luck!
Image source: Go Change Move