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How do you talk to a child about their behaviour?


Try to stay calm and use an unstressed voice. It is important to model calmness to help your child emotionally regulate.
Simplify language when they are upset. Everyone's ability to process language declines when they are emotionally stressed.
Avoid confronting your child with ultimatums and threats. If you threaten a sanction you must always be totally willing and able to enforce it now. Better to leave any punishment or sanction unknown e.g. 'There will be a consequence for this behaviour.'
Use 'I statements' to describe how you feel about the context. Using 'I' makes it more difficult for the child to contradict you. 'I am disappointed and upset that you hit your brother.'
Describe the behaviour you want not what you don't want. Instead of 'Don't shout' it is better to say 'Use a quiet voice, thank you.'
Partial acceptance of the excuse given. Here you try to remain focussed on gaining compliance with the desired behaviour. E.g. 'OK, you didn't hear me tell you to turn off the computer but I want you to do it now.'
Pause after saying your child's name to ensure attention. 'Tyler, (pause) put the Lego back in the box, thanks.'
Provide controlled choices I can help you with this now or you can do it on your own.

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You may be interested in the following pages:

Emotional Regulation

Language impact on behaviour

Self Esteem

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