7 Ways to Address a Child's Obnoxious Behavior

Obnoxious Child
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Whether your child is burping loudly at the dinner table or poking his brother in the arm, obnoxious behavior can be downright irritating. The way you respond to a child’s obnoxious behavior will determine whether it disappears or gets worse. Here are the most effective strategies for curbing obnoxious behavior fast:

1. Prevent It Before it Starts

Proactively teach your child skills that will prevent him from exhibiting disruptive behavior. Teach empathy, for example, so he can understand how his rude behavior affects those around him. Also, teach healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Show him how to cope with anxiety, fear, loneliness, or rejection without acting out.

2. Praise Good Behavior

Kids often misbehave as a means to get attention. So if you’re going to be on the phone or you’re holding an adult conversation with a friend, catch your child being good. Pause your conversation for a brief moment to say, “Thank you for playing quietly,” or “I appreciate that you’re waiting your turn to talk.” Praising good behavior can encourage your child to keep up the good work.

3. Ignore Behavior that Isn’t Harmful

If your child’s obnoxious behavior is purely attention-seeking – like making loud noises repeatedly at the dinner table – ignore it. Obnoxious behavior is often meant to gain attention, even if it’s negative attention. Selective ignoring can ensure that your child’s misbehavior isn’t effective in getting him what he wants - attention.

Ignoring will only work if everyone in the family is able to be on board. If a sibling is likely to cover her ears and repeatedly yell, “Stop!” her reaction will only reinforce to your child that his obnoxious behavior is effective in getting a reaction out of someone. So it's important to make sure everyone is on board and able to ignore the obnoxious behavior.

4. Point Out Obnoxious Behavior

If your child doesn’t recognize the type of behavior that is likely to annoy others, it’s important to point out obnoxious behavior when it occurs. If your child is showing off when you have visitors, he may think he’s entertaining people. Or, if he’s not sure how to invite other children at a playground to play with him, he may act out in an attempt to get their attention.

If you’re in private, simply saying, “Please stop, that’s annoying,” may be all you need to say. If it’s a public situation, call your child to the side and privately explain that his behavior is inappropriate. You may also want to create a code word or a signal so you can point out obnoxious behavior in public without embarrassing him.

5. Offer a Warning

If your child chooses to continue his obnoxious behavior once he’s aware that what he’s doing is disruptive, provide a warning. An if…then statement is an effective way to remind him what will happen if his behavior continues. Only offer one warning and be prepared to follow through with a consequence.

6. Give a Consequence

If your child doesn’t heed your warning, it may be necessary to follow through with a negative consequence. Time-out is usually an effective consequence. Remove him from the situation and stop giving him any attention.

If the obnoxious behavior was more serious – like it turned into physical aggression – or if a time-out isn’t an option, take away a privilege. Removing electronics for a day or taking away a favorite toy for a few hours can help your child learn.

7. Problem-Solve for the Future

If the obnoxious behavior is an ongoing problem for your child, it’s important to problem-solving the issue together. Before you enter into a situation where disruptive behavior is likely to occur – like the car or when visiting Grandma – talk about your expectations up front. Discuss what your child can do if he’s bored or how he can get attention in a more positive manner.