Healthy Family Dynamics, Volume II: Channeling Poor Behavior Into Constructive Activity

By: Turning Winds

At any given age, a child may express difficulty behaving appropriately and will act out in a variety of ways. It is not uncommon for parents to have difficulty dealing with any manifestation of poor behavior, so follow these strategies to redirect negative energy into healing and constructive conduct.

-Physical Activity-

Many parents use a timeout chair, in which children who have misbehaved remain seated until a particular duration has expired. However, keeping still is usually difficult for children. Rather than sitting, give them opportunity to release their energy in other ways. Older children could be made to vacuum and clean their bedrooms, shovel snow, or rake leaves. For children of all ages, make sure they have plenty of chances to engage in physical activities such as sports, which promote the added benefits of cooperation and teamwork.


Do not feel bad if you cannot understand why your child acts out. Sometimes they are not quite sure of the source of their behavior, either. Sit down with them, reassure them of your love, and ask them to tell you what is bothering them. In such cases, prioritize listening over dispensing opinions and advice; offer them only if asked.

-Make Time to Listen-

Children spend so much time listening to adults in various settings that they crave time to do some talking of their own. Set aside time to provide your child with a forum to talk about anything he or she desires: schoolwork, hobbies, friends and classmates, jobs, future possibilities. Most importantly, let them do the talking.

-Stand United-

In a two-parent home, it is important to present a united front when dealing with a child’s poor behavior. If you and the other parent do disagree, do so in private, not where the child can sense weakness and aggravate the situation. To perpetuate this consistent behavior, establish few rules, but stick to them. This makes it easier for parents, themselves, to remember the rules and why they were chosen.

-Forego Physical Punishment-

Any form of physical contact as punishment such as spanking can create a cycle of physicality that leads to abuse. Do not use physicality as punishment under any circumstances.

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