Let's face it; there is no "magical cure" for our children's negative behavior. Parents can (and often do) try just about anything to gain the upper hand with regards to behavior management, but it is often to no avail.
Is there something that can be done?
There sure is!
Creating a "child behavior plan" then incorporating into your family's daily regimen is an excellent first step towards improving your child's behavior. A quality child behavior plan establishes firm limits, clear boundaries, and predictable consequences (whether positive or negative).
The first step to creating a child behavior plan is to determine which behaviors you are hoping to change. Is your child defiant? Lazy? Disrespectful? Irresponsible? If so, what behaviors make him/her that way?
Once you have identified the problem behaviors then you will need to give a detailed description of the alternative behaviors you expect instead. Maybe you want your video game playing son to spend less time sitting in front of the TV and more time outside being active. Maybe you would like your teenage daughter to dress more modestly or to use a more pleasant voice-tone. Whatever it is you are trying to change, you will need to be specific about the positive alternative to the negative behavior you have identified.
Next, establish 3-4 goals that relate to the behaviors you are trying to change. Your child behavior plan should be more in-depth and descriptive than a simple behavior chart. Instead of earning a "check" or an "X" for goals that are met, your child should instead receive a number of points based on the number available to earn (it shouldn't be an "all-or-none" chart). For instance, if your child's goal is to avoid inappropriate language and he swears just one time for the day then maybe that's an improvement compared to usual and he should get 22 out of 25 points for the day on that particular goal. If your child has four goals for the day then maybe each one is worth 25 points (for a daily total of 100). You can even weigh the points of each goal based on how important that particular goal is.
Write up a behavior contract that gives privileges and restrictions based on how well the child behavior plan was followed. For instance, if the child earns 80% or more of his/her points for the day then he/she maintains all privileges for the day. If less than 80% are earned then maybe there are a few restrictions put in place. If ALL points for the day are earned then perhaps your child can earn a special privilege or treat.
A quality child behavior plan often shows immediate behavior improvement though it isn't unusual for a strong-willed child to rebel. As a parent, it's important to stick with the behavior plan rather than allowing your child to derail it.
If you are interested in creating and implementing a child behavior plan with your child then an excellent resource is available at www.parentcoachplan.com. The Parent Coach Plan will provide you with all you need to get started with your own customizable child behavior plan.