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Behavior modification strategies and ways they can work.

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How do I use behavior modification strategies to make things better for my child and my homelife?

That's a great question. Before we attempt to answer it, let's talk about what behaviors in your child you see that might need to be modified or changed.
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  • Aggressive behaviors.
  • Lying
  • Back talking.
  • Drug or alcohol use.
  • School problems.
  • Manipulation.
  • Bullying.

This is just a partial list, of course, of challenging childhood behaviors. Your child probably doesn't have a problem with all of these behaviors, but you may be facing several of them.

If this sounds like your homelife right now, you are probably feeling desperate. I don't blame you. It's very painful to live in a family that feels like it's spinning out-of-control.

What's next? Well...

What behavior modification strategies have you already tried?

  • Setting boundaries.
  • Consequences. (Click here for a related article on consequences.)
  • Using tough love.
  • Taking away privileges.
  • Extra chores.
  • Groundings.

Again, this is just a partial list of behavior modification strategies you can use to grab your child's attention and focus it back where it belongs. I can tell you from personal experience parenting my own children, these are all excellent strategies. What they are not, however, is magic.

Let me explain a bit about what I mean by that.

Control and influence as a behavior modification strategy.

Here's the unvarnished truth when it comes to dealing with your child:  you have tremendous influence. You have no control.

If that raised more questions for you than it answered, you are on the right track. People confuse these two concepts all the time. And understandably so.

As a parent you are influencing your child from the moment he is born. Whether you realize it or not; whether you like it or not. Influence between parent and child is hardwired into the human race.

Control is a different thing, however. The only control a person has is self-control, and that's true whether you are 10 or 40 or 110. Bottom line? You cannot MAKE your child do anything once she is past the age of about 2 and you can still physically wrangle her. And even at that young age, the more you physically wrangle a child, they more they look to defy you! The word 'defy' is the root word of 'defiant'. As in a 'defiant child'. Do you see the connection?

So, the behavior modification strategies listed above, and more like them, DO work, but only as a part of a process of influence and rarely in isolation. In other words, you need a parenting plan that you can plug these strategies into as needed to help your child learn to control his own behavior.

Step One in using behavior modification strategies effectively.

The smartest thing you can do as a parent of a defiant or disrespectful child (insert your own particular behavior challenge) is to face total reality in your home. I'm being honest with you here; this is a painful thing to do. It's also the shortest route to success in dealing with a child's behavior problems.


All too often as parents, we yearn so deeply for peace in our homes (and rightfully so), that we try to avoid the topics or situations that cause behavioral flare-ups. If you've been doing this in your home for any length of time, you probably are frustrated by the fact that things are worse, not better. That's because despite your good intentions, avoidance never works the way we want it to. Peace is not the result we get. We're left deeper in the mire instead.

You cannot accurately and realistically address the behavior challenges in your child until you look at those challenges face to face. In fact, you need to see them much more accurately than your child does. Otherwise how can you lead the way to a better place?

Step Two in effective behavior modification strategies usage.

Try to be an objective observer in your own home. Trust me, this will take practice but it will also give you perspective which will help you make wiser decisions and bring calm back to your heart.

After all, someone MUST be in charge in your home and your child is depending upon you to be that person (no matter what he is saying). Start by taking control of yourself and your own emotions. Take notes on the state of your homelife, if that helps you be more objective.

Learning and then implementing new behavior modification strategies will require you to see the big picture in your home and devise a plan to move towards it. Think of this like any other project you would plan out. Don't let the noise in your home, both figurative and literal, cause you to lose your focus.

You can do this!

And one last thought on putting your behavior modification strategies into action.

Always remember, whenever you set limits or boundaries your child WILL test you. That is his job. Your job is to stand firm. Be matter-of-fact, consistent and firm.

Your child is looking to you to be his leader (remember that influence discussion?). Don't disappoint him.

For a useful and related article on this topic, click here and read How to Give Kids Consequences That Work

If you want to know what parenting program I can recommend that helps parents with struggling kids, that would be The Total Transformation program, hands down. Part of why this program works is because it supports parents extremely well.

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Related articles:
What to do with a child with very serious behavior problems
Consequences in elementary school for bad behavior
Common behavioral problems in children
Behavior problems in school age children
Teenage behavior modification
Behavior modification in children

Remember, I am giving you my thoughts as a long time parent, not as a therapist. This website does not dispense professional, medical, or legal advise. Please consult a qualified professional about your own situation.

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