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How to Encourage Good Behavior in Kids

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated May 17, 2020

    How to Encourage Good Behavior in Kids

    A parent’s dream is to have a kid who will always be on their best behavior. However, most of the time, kids run around, break things, don’t respond to the word NO and wreak havoc in the lives of their parents. Though this is, in many ways, normal, it does not always need to be your reality as there are ways to encourage good behavior in toddlers and kids. Here are a few reward systems for kids that you can put into practice to make this happen. 

    How to Encourage Good Behavior in Kids: Reward Systems

    Remember that kids naturally seek the approval of their parents. The reason most of them repeat bad behavior is that it is the bad behavior that elicits the most reaction from Mom or Dad, whereas doing something good or right sometimes ends up being ignored. 

    1. Be Firm but Reassuring 

    Kids need their parents to be firm when making rules and implementing them. They need to know that should they break any rule, their parents will behave consistently and apply the rules. 

    Kids are still young and not mature enough to understand what will happen when they break a rule. Some of them may think that if they break the rules, their Mom or Dad will stop loving them. This leads to irrational fear which is never a good motivator.

    That’s why it’s important to be compassionate, but also to stand your ground. Make sure not to use idle threats, such as telling your kid that you won’t love them anymore or you’ll leave them if they don’t obey. 

    Always use positive reinforcement when disciplining to encourage good behavior in kids. Of all the reward systems for kids, it has been proven to be more effective over anything else. 

    2. Be Consistent 

    Kids are best at mimicking. They follow what they see or hear, and since it is the parents that kids see the most, they tend to follow the behavior of their Mom or Dad. This is why readers often end up raising kids who read, or why sporty parents end up with athletic kids. 

    If you want to learn how to encourage good behavior in kids, your example speaks louder than any sermon. If you want them to sleep early, then you need to sleep early as well, If you want them to eat their vegetables, then you need to show that you also eat your vegetables. 

    “Do as I say, not as I do,” almost never works. Kids will always follow what you do, so it is best to make sure you are setting a good example. 

    3. Reward Good Behavior

    There are different reward systems for kids of different ages. When you are able to implement the right one for the right age, encouraging good behavior in kids becomes easy. 

    For toddlers and preschoolers, you can use a sticker method of smiley and sad faces. If they reach a certain number of smileys or sad faces, they can either get a reward, or they can be asked to explain what happened for that time period. 

    You reward their good behavior and instead of punishing them, you get to find out the root cause of why they acted a certain way. This helps the bond between parent and child and reinforces good behavior without putting unnecessary fear in a child. 

    4. Set Clear Limits

    When you set rules, they need to be clear. The rules in place must also be age-appropriate because infants and toddlers don’t know what a rule is. School-aged children do, so set clear guidelines for them. For infants and toddlers, patience and love are more important to provide at this stage. 

    When you say something, you need to follow through so that children know that you say what you mean and you mean what you say. When kids realize that your word holds power, they will learn to follow you with just words alone. 

    5. Let Children Communicate Freely 

    When your kid knows that you will listen to their inputs, questions, and feedback about certain situations, they will open up to you more. This will help you to encourage good behavior in kids because they will trust your judgment. 

    Developing their trust is the easiest way to get kids to exhibit good behavior because they know that you are there for them and they recognize that you respect their thoughts and opinions. It does not mean that you will not have rules. It just means that they know the rules are in place for their own good because there’s open communication between you two. 

    6. Explain, not Impose

    Kids are still exploring their world. They want to try out new things, but sometimes, taking risks that can endanger their health. That’s why, for their safety, you impose rules. However, this will not always go well because kids want to discover new things all the time. 

    When you explain why they are not allowed to do certain things and what the consequences maybe if they don’t follow the rules, there’s a bigger chance that your kid will obey you. However, when you simply order them around, this almost guarantees that they will not follow you. 

    It may be challenging to reinforce rules and discipline your kids but if you give some thought about rewards systems for kids and follow the steps listed above, it’ll be easier to get your kids to behave. There will be hiccups of course, but with a compassionate heart, open communication, active listening, and lots of patience, you will surely encourage good behavior in your kid. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated May 17, 2020

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