What to Do When Your Child Won't Behave—Advice from a Behavior Analyst

Dr. Heather Maguire, Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) and a credentialed school psychologist, joins Mighty Mommy to talk about how parents can motivate their children to behave better.

Cheryl Butler
2-minute read
Episode #569

Several years ago, my oldest daughter decided to test the waters where school was concerned. Although she was an excellent student, an avid reader, and very involved with many extracurricular activities, when she entered Jr. High school she strayed down a very negative path. She no longer completed class projects or homework assignments, started skipping classes, and lost interest in her love of reading. Worse, she came up with the most far-fetched excuses when anyone at home or school tried to help her.

This is one of the many challenging situations that Dr. Heather Maguire, founder of Prism Behavior and mother of two children, deals with on a regular basis. “I help parents who are struggling with their child’s behavior," she said. "My approach is pragmatic, yet evidence-based.”

Heather started a podcast called Prism Parenting where she focuses on topics like defiance, picky eaters, sleep issues, and managing homework battles. In today’s interview, we’ll learn strategies on how to manage routine defiant behaviors and implement some effective tools that will keep our kids motivated and striving to do better. 

Have a listen to the interview by clicking on the audio player above. In this episode, we'll learn:

  • How not to take your child’s defiant behavior personally
  • The importance of meeting your child’s basic needs to ward off negative behavior
  • Why you should give your tween/teen as much power as possible
  • Why it’s essential to make your expectations and outcomes clear before an issue occurs
  • How to choose consequences that will change negative behavior, not act as a penance
  • The key to changing behavior, especially with the young kids—adopting a proactive mindset
  • Why it’s beneficial to catch your kids doing good and how to properly praise them
  • How to teach your kids respectful negotiation skills
  • How to implement a successful reward system


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.