It is normal and common for children to test boundaries and try to get away with things they know aren’t allowed. Consistency is one of the most important things in parenting, and often times it can be the most challenging. Life happens and it gets in the way of your ability to redirect behaviors 100% of the time. I like to do a behavior boot camp to get my kids back on track when I notice their behaviors are getting out of hand.
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What is Behavior Boot Camp
So, to be honest, I have no idea if I came up with the idea of behavior boot camp or if it’s a common practice. Haha! Behavior boot camp is when you dedicate a time to working on one particular behavior. You have the same consequence and apply it every time your child behaves in the manner you are working on. You can also add a positive reinforcement such as a sticker chart in addition to the consequence.
How to Choose a Consequence
I make my consequences for behavior boot camp moderately severe. You don’t want to be overly extreme since you will probably be issuing the consequence multiple times a day, but it also should be something that is effective for your child. I also like to find consequences that are natural. For example, if we are working on throwing toys, then a logical natural consequence is to lose the toys they are playing with. I would probably add a short timeout in addition to losing the toy, depending on the age of the child.
If your child isn’t being kind to their siblings, they could lose the privilege to play with other children. You can require that they be in the same room with you, at all times. I recently did this with Theo, and it only took one day for him to get back to normal. I would purposely have to use the bathroom when he was watching T.V., or go upstairs during lunch and make him come with me. He was so irritated that he didn’t want to have to do it again the next day.
It is important to use the exact same consequence every single time. It is OK to change your consequence if you notice it isn’t working, but don’t go back and forth between different ones.
How to Tell if Your Child Needs Behavior Boot Camp
It’s natural and normal for children to test boundaries, so how can you tell if it’s becoming a problem? If the behavior becomes consistent or worsens, you should think about doing a behavior boot camp. To understand more about how often your children should be obeying you on the first time, read this post.
You also might consider doing it if your child has mastered a behavior and is regressing. Our family recently had a big move and Theo had some behavior regressions. He pretty much refused to do anything I asked him to do. I thought I should give him a break since he had been through a lot, but I quickly realized that was the wrong move. I started a behavior Boot Camp and he lost a privilege every time he didn’t listen to me. It took about a week, and to be honest, with trying to close on our new house and deal with toddler twins in a rental house, I was not as consistent as I would have liked to be.
When Should I do Behavior Boot Camp
- You should do it when you have the mental capacity. Do not attempt to do it if you are overwhelmed with a newborn, or you or your child are sick.
- Oftentimes, I need to do a behavior boot camp after a vacation, holiday, or weekend with the grandparents to get our routine back in order.
- Choose a time when you have nothing important going on so you can remain consistent.
Keep in mind that your kids are going to have good days and bad days, just like we do. One day of bad behavior isn’t an indication that you need to do a behavior boot camp, but many days in a row of repeated bad behavior sure is!