Behaviour Management

The umbrella of behaviour management encompasses strategies, techniques and practices that promote good behaviour and prevent or respond to challenging behaviour. Effective behaviour management is essential for creating a positive, peaceful, and productive environment in the home, the classroom, and beyond.

The First Step: Understanding & Respect

The very first thing to know about behaviour management is that it is important to put effort into understanding a person’s behaviour. Showing the person that you care about them beyond simply correcting their bad behaviour is essential for establishing the positive relationship that you will need to make them receptive to any of the behaviour management strategies that we will be discussing. 

While establishing authority and drawing up clear boundaries are of great consequence, it is important not to neglect healthy interpersonal relationships. Whether it is your child or your student, behaviour will be much more manageable in the context of mutual respect. 

Behaviour Management Strategies

There are various behaviour management strategies that educators and parents can use to help children develop appropriate behaviour.

Setting clear expectations

Setting clear expectations and rules is a critical first step in promoting positive behaviour both at home and in the classroom. It is essential for helping children understand what is expected of them, and can come in the form of rules as well as routines.

Adults should communicate what they expect to see from children in terms of behaviour. Some easy examples include following directions, treating others with respect, and being responsible for one’s actions. 

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is another effective strategy for promoting appropriate behaviour. It can be good for their motivation if students are rewarded when they are well-behaved. For teachers, you may want to affirm your students when they complete assignments on time, participate in class discussions or help others. 

Rewards can be as simple as verbal praise or more tangible rewards, such as prizes or privileges. When used in moderation, positive reinforcement can encourage children to continue to behave well, creating a good, education-friendly classroom atmosphere.

Modelling Behaviour

Teachers can also model positive behaviour by setting a good example for their students. Educators should take special care to act as they would like their students to act by showing respect for others, following classroom rules, and demonstrating a positive attitude towards learning. 

Children learn by observing and imitating adults. When teachers model positive behaviour, they provide students with a blueprint for how to behave and create a positive classroom culture.


While promoting positive behaviour is crucial, teachers must also be prepared to address disruptive behaviour when it arises. There are several strategies that teachers can use to address disruptive behaviour, one of the most effective of which is redirecting the attention of their students.

Using a calm and assertive tone of voice works to catch the attention of children (for which this approach is especially effective). For pre-teens and adolescents, you may have to take a firmer approach. The point of redirection is to engage them in something productive rather than disruptive, so be ready to have them do something or answer a question. 


Giving out consequences for negative behaviour can help children understand that they have to take responsibility for their actions. You may opt to give verbal feedback, sentence younger children to a brief time-out, or temporarily revoke certain privileges.

When it comes to consequences, it is important to be consistent so that children know that they cannot get away with misbehaving. It also helps to outline the consequences at the onset, for example, in the classroom setting, when you meet the students for the first time; this helps act as a deterrent for misdemeanours and allows the children to be more cognizant of the rules. 

Behaviour Management Techniques

There are a couple of specific behaviour management techniques that parents and educators can use to address challenging behaviour. Here, we list a few habits you can put into practice for more effective behaviour management:

  • Active listening: Listening to a child’s concerns and feelings can help defuse difficult situations. People are less likely to be combative when they feel that they are being heard and understood. It gives the person a chance to express themselves or let out their feelings. 
  • Positive language: Using positive language, such as “please” and “thank you”, can help to promote desirable behaviour and encourage children to act respectfully towards others.
  • Encouragement: Providing encouragement can help to build self-esteem and promote positive behaviour. Most especially for children, positive feedback is a way to steer them in the right direction and help them form their values. 
  • Time-out: Time-outs can be used to give children a break from a difficult situation and help them calm down. Even with adolescents and adults, it can be beneficial to take some time apart before revisiting an issue, especially when things get heated and the conversation no longer feels productive. 
  • Conflict resolution: Teaching children conflict resolution skills can help them to resolve problems peacefully and respectfully. It is also important to exemplify good conflict management yourself, so try to always be intentional with words and keep a cool head. 


Behaviour Management at Home

Good behaviour contributes to a harmonious and healthy family environment. This means that effective behaviour management is a key ingredient for creating a good home. All of this is contingent on parents cementing their roles as leaders of the home. The respect that children should have for their parents’ authority is best developed naturally as a byproduct of loving parent-child relationships. 

A part of keeping the peace is the establishment of clear expectations for behaviour and communicating them effectively to the children. Parents should develop specific and age-appropriate rules and explain why these rules are important. In the same breath, it is also essential that parents model the behaviour that they demand, as children often learn by example. 

Parents can reinforce desirable behaviour by giving praise or rewards. They might give verbal affirmation or small tokens when children are well-behaved. Compliments and verbal encouragement can be given generously, while rewards can be used in moderation. Parents should keep in mind that what they affirm will inform the values that their children may bring into adulthood.

In addition to establishing rules and providing positive feedback, parents must also address negative behaviour when it occurs. Discipline should be approached from a positive and proactive perspective, rather than a reactive one. It is important for parents to remain calm and consistent when dealing with negative behaviour, and to ensure that consequences are fair. 

Behaviour Management in the Classroom

Behaviour management is a vital component of a successful classroom environment. A well-managed classroom fosters an atmosphere of respect, cooperation, and engagement – all of which contribute to student learning. Similarly to the home environment, good behaviour management in the classroom starts with mutual respect and established boundaries. 

It is recommended that teachers must express their expectations for behaviour at the onset. Rules should be specific, concise, and easily understood by all students. Routines and procedures for daily tasks, such as entering the classroom, transitioning between activities, and leaving the classroom can also be used to give the classroom a sense of order for both students and teachers. 

Most teachers understand the need to address misbehaviour. Like parenting, approaching mischief positively and proactively tends to be more effective than using fear or reacting in anger. Teachers may want to try balancing positive reinforcement with consequence enforcement. When addressing negative behaviour, teachers may want to use a variety of strategies, such as redirection, modelling, and positive reinforcement, rather than relying solely on punishment. 

Consistency is also an unforgettable prerequisite when it comes to behaviour management. Students should know that rules and consequences apply to all students equally and that teachers will follow through on consequences for negative behaviour.

Behaviour Management: a Science, an Art

Behaviour management is a critical aspect of promoting positive behaviour in children. By using effective strategies and techniques, educators and parents can help children develop positive behaviour and respond appropriately to challenging behaviour. In the classroom, effective behaviour management is essential for creating a safe and productive learning environment that promotes academic success and positive social development.

Frequently Asked Questions about Behaviour Management

What should I do if I’m struggling with behaviour management?

If you find yourself struggling with behaviour management, you can try out new strategies or endeavour to communicate more with your children or students. Oftentimes, making people understand that you are on the same side works well when asking for their cooperation. 

If those measures do not work, you may want to reach out to your colleagues, a behavioural specialist, or a professional development course. They can help you identify effective strategies and provide support and guidance. Remember, behaviour management is a skill that takes time and practice to master, and it’s okay to ask for help.

What are the ABCs of behaviour management?

The ABCs of behaviour management are the antecedent, the behaviour, and the consequence. Each represents an area of behaviour that you can look into for intervention.

You may want to address the root cause of the behaviour by doing something about the antecedent. Understanding why and how the behaviour occurs can also be helpful when thinking of strategies to prevent it. Consequences do not only refer to punishment in this context – taking time to observe what normally happens after people do the things they do may give insight into why they are doing it.

What are the 5 principles of behaviour management?

The five principles of behaviour management are as follows:

  • Fostering mutual respect
  • Being a good example
  • Communicating expectations
  • Utilising routines
  • Addressing misbehaviour