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Detour Away from Behavior Problems

Children sometimes misbehave because they are hungry, tired, curious or disappointed. You can detour away from many behavior problems by following these suggestions, some of which come from Sherry Rocha, Extension Educator.

Daily Routine.  Following a daily routine helps a child feel secure. It gives them an idea of what is coming next in their day. Younger children learn a routine from their school-aged siblings about dressing, eating, packing the school bag, and watching for the bus. Their after-school routine may include eating a snack, doing homework, playing and eating dinner.  


When establishing a routine, take into account weekly activities such as music lessons, sports practice, and church or club activities. Importantly, try to keep meal time and bedtime the same as hungry and tired children often become irritable, leading to misbehavior. If the kids go shopping with you, plan your shopping trip after meal time and nap time.

While young children may not need a nap after age three, they can benefit from a “quiet” time that includes relaxation, reading a book, listening to music and cuddling.

Exercise.   Exercise is important to burn off energy      and increase well-being. Sunshine and exercise keeps    them mentally alert and happy. Plus, 20 minutes of  sunshine daily helps prevent depression. Be sure their   dress is weather-appropriate!  

Explore.  Children are curious! At some ages, almost  everything you say is echoed back by a child’s “Why?” If your child takes this to extremes, set a limit on the number of “why” questions. Encourage your child to ask himself “why” and then give you the answer. Lead your child to develop critical thinking skills while decreasing your frustration.


Also, let your child explore. The world is full of plants, bugs, birds, spices, food, fabrics, shapes, colors. Some exploration can be self-directed. Partner with your child on field trips and walks. Cook together and visit museums. Fly a kite; build a snowman; create a collage from magazine photos. Let your child make guided choices, too. Give options and then let her choose hot or cold cereal for breakfast, wearing jeans or a skirt, inviting a friend over or reading a book.

Follow Through. Avoid misbehavior by keeping promises. Frustration and disappointment are not fun for anyone. Children who don’t know how to respond to disappointment often misbehave. If there is an important and real reason that you are unable to keep your promise, think through your reasoning and plan on when you will tell your child. Waiting until the last minute is not a good strategy.