Parents: 4 Ways to Handle a Child Who’s Acting Out

BY: - 24 Dec '15 | Parenting

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By: Lia Miller

Our daughter is now a preschooler and we are experiencing a “phase” where she frequently doesn’t listen and occasionally acts out.

For example, she plays soccer after school and wanted to where a “pinny” (practice shirt) while they scrimmaged. Unfortunately, before she could get the pinny, a 4th grade boy grabbed the last one. 

Instead of just keeping it moving and playing without a pinny, she kicks the boy out of frustration.   When I found this out, I experienced a range of emotions, from pride, to dismay, then consternation. 

Yeah, I know she’s only four and just beginning to understand social norms, expectations, and consequences.  However, I also know that there are certain behaviors that don’t resolve with maturation and that need to be nipped in the bud early – before they become real problems.

Here are four ways you curb your child’s behavior:

Define what is appropriate behavior

Appropriate behavior is based on the child’s age, physical and emotional development and personality. Appropriate behavior is determined by whether it’s socially, culturally, and developmentally acceptable. Knowing what to expect from your child at each age will help you decide whether his or her behavior is appropriate.

Understand your options

Children tend to stop a behavior when it is ignored, and to continue a behavior when it is rewarded.  The key is to be consistent in terms of your reaction to a behavior, because rewarding a behavior one time and punishing it another time can be confusing.


When your child is exhibiting problematic behavior, consider these three things:

  • Determine if the behavior is really a problem or appropriate to their developmental stage
  • Introduce a new/different preferred behavior and reinforce it with reward
  • Ignore the behavior or punish it in an attempt to stop it

Punishment – Using Time Out

One example of punishment is using a time out. Determine in advance what behaviors result in a time-out.  In our house, aggressive behavior (i.e. kicking the boy over the pinny at soccer practice), destructive behavior (i.e. throwing toys when told it is time to stop playing and clean-up or when asked to share said toy with a sibling), and disrespectful behavior warrant time out.

Choose a time-out place that is uninteresting and outside the reach of things they may want to touch or interact with, such as a chair at the dining room table, a corner, or the bottom step of a stairwell.  When the unwanted behavior occurs, call your child out and tell them their behavior is unacceptable and to consider this verbal admonishment a warning that will result in them going to time-out if they don’t stop.

Do your best to maintain your cool; don’t get angry.  A parent that is calm and collected when punishing a child is actually “scarier” to a child because they don’t know what to expect from you and it may help to get them in line faster.

If the negative behavior continues, follow-through on the warning and put them in time-out for a period of time that fits the “crime.”  When they come out of time-out, talk through your reasons for placing them there and ask them what they thought about while in time-out, and what they could do differently next time.

Reward – Encourage a new desired behavior  

One example of a reward is encouraging desired behavior. Children who learn that good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is not tolerated are learning early skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Start by choosing only one or two behaviors you would like to change (i.e. picking up after themselves, expressing themselves with words as opposed to throwing tantrums, going to bed and staying in bed).

Then choose a reward they will enjoy.  Some examples of good rewards are:

  • getting a preferred snack or one they don’t get very often,
  • staying up an extra half an hour,
  • earning points toward a special, toy, book, or game they’ve had their eye on,
  • an extra bedtime story,
  • a trip to the zoo, the movies, a museum or waterpark etc.

Explain what you want them to do and when they do it reward them. If they don’t do it, do not reward them no matter how much they protest; this goes back to the consistency point mentioned earlier.

By thinking through, developing a system, and following these steps when confronted with unacceptable behavior in your children, you will succeed in ending or curbing their bad behavior.

Lia Miller, known to the blogging world as Lia World Traveler, is the quintessential every-woman, a loving wife and mother, daughter, sister, friend, author/singer/song-writer, movie and book buff, DIY loc’d naturalista, food lover, sports and fitness enthusiast, news junkie, traveling fool, diplomat, diversity/social inclusion advocate, and life-time learner. In both her work and private lives, Lia has seen a lot and done a lot and through her writing; she shares her adventures and insights with you at Life As I See It.


About the author

Lia Miller wrote 23 articles on this blog.

Lia Miller is an every woman, in that she does and is interested in a lot of things. Lia is a wife and mother, ambitious/career focused individual, writer and award winning blogger, do-it-yourself loc’d naturalista, foodie, avid reader, movie buff, sports enthusiast, passionate about music, dance, and the arts, news junkie, advocate for the underdog/under-represented, with an incurable bug for traveling and exploring the world. Lia is also a clinical social worker with a concentration in children, relationships, and family dynamics. Lia’s focus is to find and share how to get the best out of life by living fully, loving hard, and always learning.


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Amazing! Your Kids Want These 5 Things More Than They Want Christmas Gifts

BY: - 25 Dec '15 | Parenting

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With Christmas rapidly approaching, it can feel like every other conversation with your kids has to do with something cool that they would like for Christmas.

My 5-year-old has a long list for Santa. He understands that many items may not be purchased and he is totally fine with that (his words, not mine). He just hopes that Santa delivers some of the gifts he’s requested.

I remind him that the gifts are from God and that Santa just delivers what he can. He reminds me that he’s aware of this and he’ll be happy with whatever God gives him.

Our conversations make me smile and laugh. My daughter, who’s 3, often chimes in with a “yes,” or head nod, signaling agreement with her brother.

That makes me laugh even more. But in the midst of my laughter, I start to wonder what my kids want the most. What would make them even happier than the toys they really want?

You see, kids are conditioned to want toys, gadgets, even pets for Christmas, so that is what they ask for. And, as parents, many of us try to give them what we can.

We make our decisions based on how old they are, what they ask for, what we can afford, and what we believe they deserve. But regardless of the decision-making process, most of us just want our little ones to have a happy Christmas morning.

But what if our kids weren’t conditioned to think Christmas is a time for receiving toys and material things? What if we lived in a world where gifts weren’t exchanged and they were expected to simply ask for what they want most? What would they ask for?

Here are 5 things your kids want a lot more than Christmas gifts:

They want your undivided attention

Whether it’s email, social media, a phone call, a magazine, or something else, so many of us are distracted by something when our kids are tying to communicate with us.

It’s unbelievable how happy kids can be if you just give them some undivided attention. It doesn’t even have to last a long time. Just give them some time where they feel like nothing (and I mean nothing) in the world matters to you more than they do. That’s the best gift you could ever give your kid.

They want fun learning opportunities with you

Children love to learn. They just need the process to be fun and interesting. If you get more involved in your kids education and enjoy learning with them, they will cherish every opportunity they have to learn something new.


Children are sponges, and although they love to play, sending them to go play isn’t enough. Do a science project with them, get crafty, plan a day-long museum trip. Get excited about what they are learning and they will want to keep learning more… with you.

They want more family traditions

You know what I remember most about my childhood? Our traditions. I remember what my mom always cooked for Thanksgiving, what we did on Christmas eve, and so many other small things that made our family feel special.

Traditions don’t cost a thing but they make all the difference in your kids’ lives. Build your life around traditions that matter to your kids—even letting them come up with a few—and your children will cherish those traditions for a lifetime.

They want new experiences

You don’t need to be wealthy to have exciting new experiences with your kids. For children, almost anything new is exciting.

Whether it’s something local, or you have some travel involved, experience new things with your kids as much as you can. The years will fly by and you don’t want wish you did more. Do more now.

They want you to be present

This is probably the most important thing all of our kids want from us. Earlier I mentioned undivided attention, but being fully present is different. It’s not just about putting away the laptop or the smart phone.

Being fully present means blocking out all of the mental clutter that prevents us from being our best as parents.

It’s about setting aside the financial stress, the business issues, and the marital concerns so you can have a happy moment with your kids—a moment where your mind doesn’t drift away. Being present makes your kids happier, and it will ultimately make you a lot happier, too.

BMWK family, what do you think your kids want more than gifts?

About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 496 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at To work with her, visit her at Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.


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