Behaviour Management Strategies

Challenging behaviour with children can be continually frustrating for parents and family members. Here are some strategies to redirect behaviour to create a more positive experience for you and your family!

  • Set up clear expectations and stick to them.
  • When motivating your child to stay on task, allow your child to choose what they’re working for to create control and increase motivation.
  • When your child becomes off track, remind them of what they’re working for rather than threatening that they will lose a particular item – use positive language and reinforcement.
  • Try and use empathetic language to show that you understand how your child feels – “I know that you want to keep playing on the iPad because you’re having fun, but it’s time for bed because you need to be well rested for school tomorrow. You can play on your iPad tomorrow afternoon.”
  • Positive phrase directions – rather than saying what you don’t want them to do ie. “Do not jump on the table”, tell them what you want them to do “Sit on the chair”. This allows your child to understand the expected behaviour. Sometimes children do not understand what the appropriate behaviour is.
  • Use a statement ie. “Sit on the chair” rather than a question ie. “Can you please sit down?”.
  • Model calmness. If your child is becoming heightened, getting louder to talk over the top of them or yelling at them is only going to increase the intensity. Speak calmly and softly to de-escalate the situation.


Tantrums are a normal part of a child’s life and occur when they feel like they do not have control and are frustrated. Remember the following:

  • Do not buy into the tantrum. Ignore the behaviour if possible so long as they are safe.
  • Do not give in or negotiate once your child starts having a tantrum. This reinforces the behaviour and lets your child know that all they need to do is have a tantrum to get what they want.

Transitioning Between Activities

  • Use positive language – instead of “Stop watching TV and go to bed”, say “When the TV show finishes it’s time for bed.”
  • Verbally remind your child what the expectations are to prepare them for transitioning. This allows your child to understand what to expect rather than getting a shock when they have to finish doing something that they enjoy which can cause a tantrum.
  • When something doesn’t have a specific finish time – ie. playing on the ipad, use timers and remind your child when they have to finish the task. ie. “In ten minutes, it’s time to turn off the TV and go to bed”.

Occupational Therapists work with children and families to assist with challenging behaviours. If your child exhibits challenging behaviour, it may be worth having an Occupational Therapy assessment to provide intervention to assist with this. Therapy Alliance Group has a number of Occupational Therapists that can assist your family!

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