Teaching Good Behaviour

Sometimes we can be frustrated with our child’s behaviour, wondering why they can’t do what we expect them to do. Here in this extract from the Parents Plus Early Years Parenting Programme the authors John Sharry, Grainne Hampson and Mary Fanning help us to see that maybe our children aren’t actually misbehaving, they just haven’t learned the skills they need to behave the way we would like.

You can also find more resources from Parents Plus on https://www.parentsplus.ie/parents/

Teaching Good Behaviour

A good way to think about misbehaviour and childhood problems is to see that a child has not yet learnt the skill of how to behave well. For example, a child grabs a toy because he has not yet learnt how to share. You can see it as your job as a parent to teach your children the skills of behaving well.

 Press the pause button

  • Take a step back from what is happening and how you normally react
  • Closely observe your child



 ‘Tune in’ to what is happening

  • What is going on for your child?
  • What is the reason for the behaviour?
  • What skill do they need to learn?



 Make a plan

Focus on what you want to happen and the skills your child needs to learn

  • How can you prevent problems from happening?
  • How do you want your child to behave?
  • How can you show your child how to behave well?

Examples of Teaching Good Behaviour

Problem Skill they need to learn How to teach them
Children are always fighting when playing


Sharing and taking turns


Sit between them as they play. Coach them in sharing and waiting to take turns.


Daughter gets really upset over losing



Saying how she feels, rather than having a tantrum



Ask her to “use your words to tell me”. Name her feelings, “you sound cross”. Read her some books on feelings.


Son gets really ‘hyper’ at bedtime. Learning to relax and wind down. Build a relaxing routine before bedtime. Practise with him doing gentle breaths while listening to music.


 If during the time of this Covid-19 pandemic you are finding parenting challenging please contact the Donegal Parent Support Line on 1800 112277 (freephone) where one of the Family Support Workers or Youth Workers will be able to offer you a listening ear, guidance and tips to address the issues you are facing.

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        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 https://youtu.be/xl2F2vZXhbg Volume 2 https://youtu.be/OOy4lmWggtM Volume 3 https://youtu.be/tmv40--l7fA Volume 4 https://youtu.be/Wr9bfTWddts Volume 5 https://youtu.be/7HLkBXvVTFE Volume 6 https://youtu.be/NuUXb51qZY0

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