5 Tips to Help Prevent Misbehavior in the New Year

If one of your New Year's goals is to encourage better behavior from your kids, Mighty Mommy can help. Here are five proven strategies to put your kids on the path to being well-behaved both in public and behind closed doors.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #359

We all have goals and desires for our family during the New Year, and one that is usually high on that list is encouraging better behaviors. Before I had my eight kids, I would marvel at seeing how children behaved out in public. There seemed to be two norms—exceptionally behaved and polite little darlings or out-of-control little terrors that were running the show. 

I’m afraid at the time I was a bit quick to judge, after all, I was then the mother of two adorable cocker spaniels, but after my five-year bout with infertility finally yielded my first daughter, then my son, then my next daughter and on and on until I had eight kids in one short decade, I realized two important things. First, I would not be critiquing other parents when I didn’t know what their circumstances were and second, I wanted to be one of those parents who was out and about with kids who were respectful and as well-mannered and behaved as their present age would allow for.

Twenty years of parenting later, I’ve had more than my share of ups and downs with my kids in public, so Mighty Mommy is going to share five proven tips that have helped my own kids shine with their best behavior both in public and behind closed doors.

Tip #1: Have Clear Expectations

One of the best tips I ever learned early on as a parent was that kids need boundaries. Even at a very young age when they are toddlers, they need to know what they can and cannot do. When your child is learning to walk and finally gets mobile, you wouldn’t let her toddle over to the street where she could get hit by a car, right? Yet if she grabs her favorite toy and is excited to bring it over to you, you encourage and praise her for that type of interaction. Right from the beginning we are teaching them right from wrong and how to stay out of harm’s way. They learn by the tone of our voice when something is pleasing or not and kids are born to want to please, especially their parents, so by establishing your expectations early on, you are setting a solid foundation for good behavior.  See Also:  6 Ways to Handle a Defiant Teen (Without Yelling)

Tip #2: Set Family Rules

If kids have free reign to do as they please, talk back with fresh, flip remarks, and are appeased the minute they start to whine, you can kiss any chance of raising a well-behaved child goodbye. There’s no question that it’s easier to give in and let them watch TV instead of doing their homework when you’re making dinner because they’re wearing on your last nerve ending, or to bribe them with a new toy or treat to get them to stop crying in the store, so you can save yourself some embarrassment, but if you invest the time in setting family rules, and stating them to your kids, you can turn that rotten behavior around.

You don’t have to overcomplicate this and give lengthy explanations. If you decide there is no TV in the morning before school, you can state that as one of your family rules and say something like “You need to eat breakfast and get dressed so we’re not late for school.  TV time will be later this afternoon.”

In our house, these rules have changed as my kids have grown. The great part is that they have been used to following guidelines throughout their childhood and into their teen years, so they expected to have rules when they started driving and dating etc. And because we’ve always taken the time to discuss why this rule is in place we have their respect because we’re not saying “Because I said so.”  See Also: Ten Healthy Habits to Strengthen Your Family


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.