How to encourage positive behaviour

8 Apr 2020

The national lockdown has meant a change in routine for many people. A change in routine can have a negative impact on your child’s behaviour.

Other reasons that cause children to misbehave include emotional issues, seeking attention, a change in routine and experiencing changes in their body.

Getting to the route of what might be causing your child to misbehave is one of the important things to do before you can reprimand them or administer punishment.  If your child’s behaviour is caused by a change of routine, set up a new schedule, that can put your child back into some kind of routine.


Children sometimes break rules, because they are do not know what the rules are. And they just want to see what will happen if they break them. This is why it is important to set clear boundaries. However, setting boundaries is not enough. You have to explain the rules in a way that your child will understand and also let them know what will happen if they break the rules. 

And when they break the rules also ensure that you use positive disciplinary action to address their misbehaviour. 

In a previous article Clinical Psychologist, Dr Ian Opperman says saying ‘no’ is not setting boundaries. 

“Rather explaining: “you may not pick up the coffee mug because you will burn and it will be sore, rather pick up your sippy cup and drink some of your own tea like a big boy” will teach your child why they should not do something and what they can do instead,” he says. 


Positive reinforcement is defined as the process of encouraging or establishing a pattern of behaviour by offering a reward when the behaviour is exhibited. So instead of focusing on what your child is doing wrong, rather focus on what they are doing right. For instance, if your child cleans their room or does a task without being reminded, acknowledge and praise them for what they have done. 

This motivates a child to want to do this again, as their efforts have been recognised. 


Pay attention to your child’s emotional needs. Sometimes children act out because they want attention and sometimes they are really trying to communicate with you how they are feeling. However, there are children who just likes attention, but in either case, you still need to give your child your full attention. 

However, do not indulge your child when they misbehave to get attention, as this can set a precedent. If your child knows that you’ll give them attention when they act out, they will continue to act out this behaviour, as they will think it’s the only way to give them attention. The best thing to do is to let your child calm down and give them attention, once they exhibited good behaviour.