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How do I modify my child’s behavior?

Modifying the behavior of our children is what all parents would like to know how to do and master a thousand wonders, and that is what we are going to try to talk about in this article. Although, of course, always keep in mind that each child has the characteristics that make it special and different, as well as child’s behavior, so the same method does not have to be valid for different children or be effective against different behaviors.

I will give you a brief explanation of the most common and usual techniques that you can carry out in your field. Although of course, if the behavior is too difficult to modify or it can result in serious consequences for him or those around him, I recommend as always that you go to a specialist psychologist. Continue reading: 5 E-learning tips that all E-Learning beginners should know

Child’s behavior modification

child's behavior

Many times we consider certain behaviors of our children as a problem, when in reality they are the result of an interaction between their interests and ours, as a result of their maturation and natural growth. The point is that we live in a world marked by schedules, norms, routines that must be fulfilled, both we and them, and we cannot raise and educate in as much freedom as some psychological movements propose.

One of the most significant is the so-called disobedience, which is real and existing, but at other times is also caused when we try to impose without giving more alternatives or explanations.

At other times the problematic behaviors are not due to the parents, but there is a clear deficit in the handling of contingencies by them, to control or redirect them. This is when it is convenient to try to correct certain child’s behavior, and where we can apply the techniques that I am going to comment on.

Let’s first see a series of general tips that contribute to increasing the effectiveness of the application of these techniques:

  • We must adapt the techniques to the child’s age and level of understanding.
  • It is very convenient to organize, plan and apply them to both parents.
  • It is also very appropriate to write down results, observations, frequency, etc., with the sole purpose of being able to subsequently evaluate the results obtained.
  • Establish explicit, concise, brief rules and avoid physical punishment, shouting, and threats.
  • Establish daily routines, flexible in their compliance, but that guide and help the child to know what awaits him at each moment.

Modification techniques

child's behavior

The economy of chips consists in giving him tangible reinforcements, such as chips, gomets, points, quickly and automatically when he carries out appropriate behaviors. Previously you will have agreed with him such behaviors, the amount of reward to receive for each type of behavior, the rewards for which you can redeem said points or gomets, when you could make the conversion or exchange, the number of points or gomets that will be removed if you perform the behaviors that you want to reduce or eliminate … The program must be well “tied,” for it is essential that you plan between you and then show it to him, giving him a small margin to negotiate, to savor the feeling of participation, which always facilitates compliance with the program.

Depending on the age of your child you will have to adapt the rewards (also according to their preferences and interests to motivate them), they do not have to be always material, they can be doing activities with it, for example. The program should check you from time to time to check that the reinforcements are still effective because they are still interesting. If you are managing to modify, reduce or eliminate, you should gradually withdraw the program and replace the rewards with verbal reinforcements.

Contract of contingencies

child's behavior

It is a written agreement in which you establish, similar to the previous one, conduct to perform, behaviors that you should not perform and consequences of both.

Extinction is a consistent method to find out, for this the parents are the best observers, which is reinforcing the child’s behavior that we want to eliminate or modify. Once found out, it consists of eliminating said reinforcement so that it loses interest in carrying out said behavior and ends up disappearing. In young children it is very typical before tantrums to ignore them, it is the best method. I understand that in certain situations it is very difficult to carry it out. But those of us who are parents and have already gone through it. We see some tantrum in the street or the supermarket. We see the father or mother completely ignoring it; we understand what is better than you can be doing.

Once extinguished reinforce the new situation of the child if he is already relaxed and has changed his attitude. I leave a video for you to see many times as what they seek is simply to be ignored.


It is a method of taking the child completely out of the situation in which he is carrying out the inappropriate behavior. Many times it is used because the reinforce that are maintaining them has not been identified. The “let’s go to the corner of thinking” system is typical. It is necessary to “remove” the child completely from the situation in which the child’s behavior was taking place (of the room, of the house, of the trade …) and wait patiently for it to be extinguished by itself; it also costs but is very effective. Handle your credit card:

Response cost

child's behavior

It consists of withdrawing some positive reinforcement if you are performing an inappropriate behavior. The typical “you’re going to run out of the drawings if you continue to behave like that.” Appreciations: we should not threaten if we do not warn, and if it continues, then apply the sanction immediately. A repeated threat does not have any effect and can have just the opposite effect. We must be provided about the reinforcement we removed from you and the behavior you were performing, and you should be given the opportunity to recover the reinforcement by telling you the correct way to conduct or behave.


It is a way of teaching a new behavior or correcting an inappropriate one. It consists of rewarding or rewarding him for any behavior he performs, and that approaches the goal we have set, even if it is not the same. Each step you take in the right direction is rewarded, and in the end, you get to learn what you want or modify what was inappropriate.

Of course, there are more behavior modification techniques such as overcorrection, satiation, punishment (positive and negative), stress inoculation, relaxation, self-control techniques, training in specific skills, paradoxical intention, self-instruction training, etc. The ones I have described are fundamentally behavioral, but they are the simplest and those that show the best relationship between application-effectiveness so that you can take them into practice.

On the other hand, I do want to add and highlight that we are not dogs like Pavlov, with all my respect to these animals, so we must be clear, that in the behavior of our children, many factors come into play and among them are cognitive and emotional. The feelings of affection, respect, trust, are essential to transmitting a good education and a maturation in harmony.

I want to tell you that, from my point of view, both professionally and as a father, extremes are never adequate, no matter how good the results may be. Neither extreme discipline nor total freedom. Have a head when applying techniques, think carefully if the child’s behavior is a problem, put yourself in the point of view of your child and think about both your happiness and yours.

Read also: High school guidance: What to do if you mess?