Encouraging good behaviour in your child

It's important for your child’s development that you encourage good behaviour from a young age.

You can encourage good behaviour by doing the following:

  • praising good behaviour - children repeat behaviours that gets them attention
  • avoiding frequent punishment - this can damage your relationship with your child
  • being calm and respectful - children copy their parents
  • keeping them busy - for example, if you know you have to wait somewhere prepare activities for them 
  • having a routine - this will help them feel secure - let them know in advance if you need to change the routine
  • having clear rules - rules should be short, easy to understand, fair and apply to everyone
  • using positive language – for example, say “Do speak quietly.” instead of “Don’t be shouting.”

Be consistent

The most important thing is to be consistent, so that your child can learn correct behaviour and how to follow rules.


If your child's other parent is not living with you it can be difficult to be consistent when disciplining your child. Try to reach an agreement on the best way to encourage good behaviour, while being respectful of each other’s parenting styles.

Encouraging your child to share

Encourage your child to share by:

  • playing games with them where they must wait to take their turn, such as playing on a swing
  • explaining the main aim and rules of a game before you start any game
  • colouring pictures with your child - explain that they have to wait to use a colour if you are already using it
  • reminding your child to say "please" and "thank you" if they want something
  • praising your child for asking nicely and waiting their turn
  • playing board games - your child learns that they may not always win but they can still enjoy taking part

You can support your child in trying to solve a problem themselves. For example, if they are about to take something from another child, ask them what the problem is. Repeat the information so you can understand it from their point of view. Choose a practical solution together.

Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2021

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