1 Address the key issues: Decide on the main areas in the child or young person's behaviour that are causing the greatest concern. These are the ones you will be addressing first. It may seem that all of the child's behaviour needs correcting, but a number of key issues will stand out, for example, biting, kicking, swearing or refusing to do as asked. Leave more minor issues, for example, untidiness, until you have corrected the main issues.
2 Decide on a new routine. A routine, with its boundaries of expectations, is essential for any family to run smoothly. It is also a crucial framework for the changes you are about to make. It will include the following:
• the time your child has to be up in the morning, washed, dressed and ready for school
• what time you all sit down together for dinner in the evening
• when homework is done
• your child's responsibilities and chores and when they should be done - for example, tidying away, putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket, etc.
• bath, bedtime, etc.
Routine is safe and secure, and once your child knows what is expected he or she can easily get it right and receive your praise.
2 Talk to your child about the changes you are about to make and why the changes are necessary. Explain the new routine but don't expect your child to remember it instantly. He or she will need reminders as you go along.
3 Explain what the behavioural issues are. These may seem obvious to you, but they won't necessarily to your child. Explain why their behaviour is wrong and how it is going to change. Warn of the sanctions that will be applied if necessary, and finish your talk on a positive note by praising your child, even if it is only for sitting still and listening to you.
4 Start immediately. Using my 3Rs technique of Request, Repeat and Reaffirm (explained in my book Happy Kids), praise positive behaviour and sanction the negative behaviour you are addressing.
5 Always remember it is the child's behaviour that is wrong and not the child. So don't say 'you are naughty,' say 'that was naughty behaviour'.
6 Allow time: Because it is important that your child now does as he or she has been asked, allow enough time for this to happen. If the child discovers that prevaricating can get them out of doing what you have asked, it won't take long for them to start using this as a technique for controlling your behaviour.
7 Zero Tolerance: In order to get your child's behaviour back on track, zero tolerance is essential to begin with. When you are in charge again and your child is responding, you can gradually ease up, but to begin with you will only accept acceptable behaviour.
8 Praise It is essential that while you are dealing with the child or young person's challenging behaviour you take every opportunity to praise the child.
9 Quality Time: The pleasure of your child's company may have become lost as you struggled with his or hers unacceptable behaviour. Now you are regaining control using my 3Rs technique find time each day to spend quality time with your child. It needn't be a huge amount of time, if you are very busy, but do something together each day. Spending fifteen minutes, one to one with your child, in an activity of your child's choosing will work wonders in cementing the bond between you and encouraging cooperation. Get down to your child's level to play. Spend the time willingly and join in with the activity wholeheartedly. It is important your child knows you are enjoying his or her company. Which you will be now he or she is better behaved.
10 Tell your child at least once a day you love them.
Saving Danny by Cathy Glass is published by Harper Element, out now.