How to Stop Fights

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Scenario:

Jerry and Austin are squabbling over a sprinkling can in the garden, each wanting to water the radishes with it.  Finally Austin tips it over and pours water on Jerry’s shoes and Jerry begins to cry.  He seizes a shovel and whacks Austin’s hand with it.  

What to do:

Use swift and meaningful consequences.  Remove any doubt from the child’s mind that when you say “no” to hitting, bullying or bad behaviour, you mean it.  Follow through on the consequences you give to the child for misbehaving.  Use consequences that are immediate, reasonable in size, important to the child and show a relationship to the behaviour.  For instance, in this scenario, Jerry has used a shovel to whack Austin’s hands, use a combination of small consequences to get your point across, such as saying “Jerry, hitting is not nice.  You will give Austin your snack tomorrow because you hit him. Tell Austin you are sorry.  Instead of playing legos tonight, you can make an apology card that you will share with Austin when you give him your snack.”

Train the child to do something else instead.

Often, children respond to their emotions without thinking about what they should do instead.  Parents and caregivers will need to take the time to help children replace bad behaviours with more acceptable ones.  Practice several times a day with the child.  Play games that teach cooperation.  Role-play using stuffed animals to show how to solve emotional situations and read stories that show how to resolve problems.  Monitor children who have trouble controlling their behaviour.  Quickly redirect them to do something else as soon as you notice they aren’t properly handling the situation.  Later, return to the problem and practice what to do instead.  Reinforce your child’s efforts, make sure you notice when the child uses positive alternative behaviour or refrains from responding negatively in a situation.  Praise and encourage him or her consistently for good behaviour.  Use charts to monitor the growth in ability to control his or her emotions.  Charts can help put problems in perspective and set up a routine to encourage your child’s improvement.  Remember, it is not necessary to pay off good behaviour with tangible rewards.  Spending time with your child may be all the reward the child needs to change his or her behaviour.

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