10 effective ways to help your children behave well this summer
- Make packing fun, not a battleground – If we’re not careful, packing for a holiday can turn into a battle of wills. Encourage your children to take two toys and a book each on holiday – but no more or you’ll be paying for excess baggage at the airport. Get them to make a list of the clothes they’d like to take and think about their favourite toys and books a few days in advance. Reward them for a job well done with their favourite game. If they’re into Pokémon Go, how about a Pokémon hunt?
- Turn shopping into a game – This can be a trying time, especially with younger children. Turn it into a game. Ask them to help you draw up a shopping list, allowing them one healthy item each. Get them to search for the items on the list. If they find them, promise them a treat like a trip to the park. If your child keeps running off from the trolley, give them the space to make the right choice. Get down to his or her eye level and calmly tell them: “This is the first time I’m asking you to walk with me by the trolley.” Give them the time to do the right thing. If they don’t, stop get down again and tell them: “This is the second time I’m asking you to walk with me by the trolley. I’ll ask you three times and if you don’t, we won’t be going to the park.” Keep the process going, giving your child the time to make the right choice. If they still don’t after three times, you have to follow through with the corrective action.
- Keep school friendship circles going with ‘play dates’ – Children can sometimes feel a little isolated without their school friends, so arrange a few ‘play dates’ during the summer. That allows them to keep in touch, and keep up their social skills.
- Use time-outs for correction – This does work. Give your child around three minutes without any distractions. At the end of it, make sure you repair the relationship by praising them for apologising and staying in the ‘time out zone’. Tell them you’re sure they won’t do what they did in the future.
- Let siblings work out their squabbles themselves – where they can. It’s tempting to step in and stop arguments, but children need to develop negotiating skills and the best way to do that is to start negotiating with their siblings. Never allow the squabbles to get physical or verbally upsetting, but allowing them to come to their own conclusion about who should be using the iPad will give them a valuable skill. Praise them for coming to a conclusion. This technique also avoids your children getting into the habit of causing a row for a little parental attention.
- Spend a little time with each child individually – Summer is the perfect time to have a little on-on-one time with each child to help you listen to them. You’ll also be able to show you notice them.
- Unleash their creativity – Getting your child to paint, draw, dance, sing, play music, or create a story, are all fantastic ways for them to express themselves and feel involved. It’s also a good opportunity for listening to them. Use encouragement and effective praise – keep it specific and not based on a concept of good or bad work. For example: “I like the way you used blue in this painting. Why did you choose that?” or “Tell me how you came up with that story. I really liked it.”
- Help them get enough sleep – A child behaving poorly is often a very tired child. It’s tempting to relax the rules about bed times during the summer holidays, but do bear in mind your children need their sleep whatever they’re doing. Ensure all activities end an hour before bedtime so your child can wind down. Give them a countdown to bedtime, then get them into their usual night time routine of brushing their teeth, reading a story, and the lights being dimmed.
- Give them choices – Some children find being out of the usual school day routine can be disorientating. Tell your children the plans for the week. Give them a little input into what you’re doing together – choice helps them feel in control. Tell them you could go swimming or to the park on Thursday and ask them which they’d prefer to do.
- Help prepare them for the return to school – We all remember those trips with our parents to buy school uniform or school clothes. Summer holidays seemed like they’d go on forever, but those trips gave us a useful countdown to being back in the school term. Take your child along to buy their new uniform or school outfits. Get their input.
NSM Training & Consultancy provides expert help on behavioural issues for families, teachers, and school staff. Read more about the work here: https://www.nsmtc.co.uk/
The company was established by international education consultant and teacher Nicola S Morgan. She developed a reputation for excellence in dealing with the most difficult pupils and now runs training courses for schools and parents and is a published author in the field.