The first step to transforming a child’s behaviour is to identify what it is that bothers you. Next you need to sit down and discuss it with your child. Their age will determine the depth and level of conversation. No matter what age always tell them in gentle and warm tones that you love them. Always begin with the positive. Then let them know that (let’s use an example) you have noticed they are not responding when they are called. Explain it frustrates you and that you have decided this has to change. They need to be aware that the expectation is for them to respond when you call - not ignore you.
Work out a reward system that gives them positive feedback when they respond. You need to decide what would be an appropriate, age-related reward. When a child is a toddler it is enough to say, ‘Good for you – you are a star. You came when I called!’ You are reinforcing the good behaviour you desire to see. Continue to do this. As the child responds consistently you can begin to back off in your praise. However, it is always good to let your children know what a blessing they are whether you are bringing change or not.
When your child is older a star chart really works well. It is important for younger children to see the stars go up quickly. They then get the idea that you actually mean what you said. They can begin to feel good about what they accomplished. Have some kind of reward for them for obtaining a certain number of stars. Nothing too elaborate because consistency is the key to modifying behaviour and you must be able to afford to provide the reward. If you consistently reward the correct behaviour by your words and actions you will cement the desired behaviour.
At this point don’t negate what you have done by removing stars. Focus on rewarding the desired response. You may need to create opportunities for your child to respond to you so you can reinforce the right behaviour. Make a big deal of it. Tell them you are so impressed that they responded to you and as you are speaking put a star on the chart. You may give them a big hug while you are speaking. With all the responses from you being positive you will become an agent of change in your child’s behaviour.
The absolute key to this is consistency. You must always be consistent when dealing with children. If you say one thing and do another you will never see the results you are looking for. Be consistent with your praise and the rewarding of good behaviour, then you are on your way to transforming your child’s behaviour.