How to Encourage Good Behaviour in Children

Parenting is tough, especially when you’re juggling the demands of modern life. Most people understand that getting your children to behave well isn’t always easy. Here are some simple tips and tricks that can help encourage your children towards positive behaviour.

Be a Good Role Model

Children are like sponges, soaking up all the information from their environment and using this to shape their worldview, which is why it’s so important to lead by example. When they’re very young, your children will spend the majority of their time with you, which means that they’ll base their concept of normality on your actions, behaviours and beliefs.

While this can seem like a lot of pressure to be ‘perfect’, what it really means is that we need to model the things we want our children to value. Whether that’s through kindness to others, in the way we speak to our children and interact with other people in front of them, or through self-care and compassion, in the way we treat and speak about our bodies. We can also model things we hope our children might enjoy, from spending time in nature to reading books or cooking healthy meals to share.

Create a Routine

Chaos can be extremely overwhelming to children, leading to them acting out due to confusion and uncertainty. Creating, and following a routine will help them feel at ease and give them a feeling of safety and structure that enables them to explore the world and their position in it.

Routines can be anything from how you start the day, for example, waking up at roughly the same time, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast to a dinner time routine of who sets the table and how and when or a bedtime routine to give your child chance to wind down and help them get a good night’s sleep.

girl cleaning teeth with father supervision
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

Reward Them

Whilst you don’t need to (and, in fact, shouldn’t) reward every single instance of good behaviour, acknowledging when your children have gone above and beyond shows that you notice and appreciate that your child has tried extra hard and this can help incentivise them to keep it up in the future.

Rewards for good behaviour should be something that’s within your family’s budget and something you know they’ll enjoy. If you’re eligible for McDonalds NHS discount, then you could treat your child to a Happy Meal, for example. Or if there’s a film they’ve been wanting to see, then a trip to the cinema at the weekend could be a good reward for behaving well at school all week.

Listen Actively

It’s crucial that we listen to our children, both through what they say and their body language. Children can find it hard to identify their emotions and put them into words but by listening to what they are saying or noticing their behaviours, we can help them give their big feelings names that they can understand, such as frustration, anger, sadness and disappointment.

Knowing why your child is behaving a certain way and listening to their experience, improves the communication and bond between you and your child, which can make parenting easier. However, listening works both ways so here are some tips you can try if you have a hyper child that doesn’t listen to you.

Even though we can encourage good behaviour, set high standards, clear boundaries and demonstrate our expectations through our own behaviours there will still be times when our children get overwhelmed and act out and that’s okay. Educating yourself on how to deal with your child’s meltdowns is key as this will help you feel prepared and confident, especially if they happen in public. Just remember that one big meltdown doesn’t undo all their good behaviour, it just requires a reset.