10 Ways to Encourage Good Behavior in Children

Emmanuel Abimbola

Emmanuel Abimbola

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 18, 2024
10 Ways to Encourage Good Behavior in Children

As a parent or caregiver, you play a huge role in shaping a child's behavior, and it's a big responsibility! But don't worry; with the right approach, you can help your little ones grow into amazing individuals with great character.

Raising children who exhibit good behavior requires intentional effort, patience, and a deep understanding of biblical principles. It does not happen overnight, but with consistent effort, you can instill values like kindness, respect, and honesty in your children.

As parents and caregivers, we are our children's first and most influential teachers. We show them what it means to live a good life, and they learn by observing us. That's why it's crucial to model the behavior we want to see in our children. If we want them to be kind, we must show them kindness. If we want them to be honest, we need to be truthful ourselves.

By teaching children good behavior and values, we're not only helping them become better individuals, but we're also shaping the next generation of leaders, citizens, and parents. We're giving them the tools they need to succeed in life and make a positive impact on the world around them.

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Mom comforting her daughter; how to teach children about God's love in hard times.

1. Model Good Behavior

Modeling good behavior is one of the most powerful ways to teach our children valuable lessons! As the saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words," and children are expert observers, learning from what they see us do. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 

Children watch us constantly, taking mental notes of how we behave, react, and interact with others. They see how we treat others, how we handle challenges, and how we show love and kindness. And guess what? They imitate us! Whether we like it or not, our children are mini-mes, mirroring our behavior and adopting our character traits.

So, what does this mean for us as parents and caregivers? It means we need to be intentional about modeling the behavior we want our children to adopt. If we want them to be compassionate, we must show them compassion. If we want them to be gracious, we need to extend grace. If we want them to be respectful, we need to treat others with respect.

Let's make a conscious effort to model good behavior and character traits we want our children to adopt. Let's show them what it means to live a life of love, compassion, and integrity. 

By doing so, we'll be giving them a solid foundation to build their character and values upon.

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silhouette at sunset of mother and daughter praying outside, generational curses prayer

2. Teach Biblical Values

Teaching biblical values is a vital part of raising children who know and love God! Biblical values and principles provide a moral compass for our children, guiding them to make wise choices and live a life that honors God. 

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." 

Teaching biblical values isn't just about memorizing scripture or attending church services; it's about incorporating God's Word into our daily lives and conversations.

Here are some examples of how to do just that:

Start the day with a morning devotional or prayer together, and use scripture to guide conversations about everyday issues like forgiveness or kindness. Create a "verse of the week" or "verse of the month" to focus on together. 

Use biblical stories to teach valuable lessons, like David and Goliath for courage or the Prodigal Son for forgiveness. Pray together before meals or at bedtime, using scripture to guide your prayers. Display scripture around the house, like on a fridge magnet or wall art.

By teaching biblical values and incorporating scripture into our daily lives, we're giving our children a solid foundation for their faith and helping them develop a personal relationship with God. And that's a legacy that will last a lifetime!

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father disciplining young daughter by pointing finger at her in conversation, spare the rod spoil the child

3. Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

Setting clear boundaries and expectations is essential for our children's growth and development. Clear rules and consequences help children feel safe and secure, knowing what's expected of them and what the consequences will be if they don't meet those expectations.

Clear boundaries and expectations help children develop self-discipline, responsibility, and a sense of accountability. When children know what's expected of them, they're more likely to make good choices and take ownership of their actions. When they don't meet those expectations, consequences help them learn from their mistakes and understand the impact of their actions on others.

But here's the thing: setting clear boundaries and expectations isn't only about rules and consequences; it's also about creating a safe and loving environment for our children to learn and grow. When children feel loved, supported, and encouraged, they're more likely to thrive and reach their full potential.

So, how can we establish a safe and loving environment for our children? 

Here are a few tips:

-Clearly define and consistently uphold boundaries and expectations.

-Use positive language and reinforcement to encourage good behavior.

-Show physical affection and emotional support.

-Listen actively and validate their feelings.

-Apologize when you mess up (because, let's face it, we all do!).

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4. Practice Positive Reinforcement

4. Practice Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement—it's a powerful tool for encouraging good behavior and building self-esteem. The concept is simple: when children exhibit good behavior, we reward and praise them, which encourages them to repeat that behavior. It's a win-win! (1 Corinthians 16:14).

Positive reinforcement is effective because it encourages good behavior, builds self-esteem and confidence, strengthens relationships, and creates a positive atmosphere

Here are some examples of how to praise and reward good behavior:

Verbal praise: "Great job sharing your toys!"

Physical praise: a hug, high-five, or fist bump

Tangible rewards: stickers, stars, or small treats

Special privileges: extra storytime or a later bedtime

Remember, be specific with your praise, focusing on the behavior rather than the child. This helps them understand what they did right and how to repeat it.

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Family on couch parents talking to kids

5. Encourage Open Communication

Open communication—it's the foundation of a healthy relationship with our children! When we listen actively and respond with empathy and understanding, we create a safe space for our children to express themselves.

Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."

Open communication is important because it builds trust and understanding, encourages honesty and openness, helps children develop emotional intelligence, resolves conflicts, and prevents misunderstandings

Here are some tips for encouraging open communication:

Listen actively: maintain eye contact, nod, and ask open-ended questions.

Respond with empathy: "I understand you're feeling angry right now."

Validate their feelings: "You have a right to feel sad."

Ask for their thoughts and opinions: "What do you think we should do?"

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Doing Chores; the value of instilling life skills in kids

6. Encourage Responsibility

Teaching children responsibility and accountability is a vital life skill! By encouraging our children to take ownership of their actions and contribute to the household, we're helping them develop a strong work ethic and a sense of purpose.  

Assigning age-appropriate tasks and chores helps children feel responsible and valued, and it's a great way to teach them important life skills like time management, organization, and self-discipline. 

Here are some examples of age-appropriate tasks and chores:

Toddlers (2–3 years): picking up toys, putting dirty clothes in the hamper

Preschoolers (4-5 years): helping with simple meal prep, feeding pets

School-age children (6-12 years): taking out the trash, helping with laundry, assisting with meal prep

Teenagers (13+ years): taking on more significant responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, and caring for younger siblings

Remember to praise and thank your children for their efforts, even if they don't do the task perfectly. This encourages them to continue taking responsibility and develops a strong sense of self-worth.

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A father hugs his daughter in front of a Christmas tree

7. Show Physical Affection

Physical touch and affection are essential for our children's emotional and social development! Physical touch releases oxytocin, the "love hormone," which strengthens bonding and attachment.  

Showing love and affection to our children is crucial for their emotional well-being and development. 

Here are some ways to show physical affection:

Hugs and cuddles, kisses and high-fives, holding hands or giving fist bumps, snuggling while reading or watching a movie, and giving massages or gentle rubs on the back.

Remember, physical touch is a universal language. By showing love and affection to our children, we're speaking directly to their hearts and souls. This also allows us as the parents to discuss what is and isn't appropriate physical affection from others.

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two reconciling people holding hands

8. Teach Empathy and Compassion 

Teaching children to consider the feelings of others is a vital life skill. Empathy and compassion are essential for building strong relationships, understanding different perspectives, and creating a more caring and supportive community. Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." 

Modeling and encouraging empathy and compassion can be done in simple ways, such as discussing feelings and emotions during daily conversations, role-playing different social scenarios to practice understanding others, reading stories, and watching movies that highlight empathy and compassion. Also, encourage kindness and helpfulness towards others by volunteering together as a family to serve those in need.

By teaching empathy and compassion, we're helping our children develop a heart for others and become more understanding and supportive individuals.

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Teenage volunteer cleaning up a park

9. Provide Opportunities for Service

Teaching children to serve others is a powerful way to shape their character and behavior. Serving others helps children develop a sense of purpose, gratitude, and responsibility. Mark 10:45 confirms that "for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 

Find age-appropriate service opportunities for your children, such as helping at a local food bank or soup kitchen, participating in community clean-up events, visiting nursing homes or hospitals, assisting with animal care at a shelter, and supporting a charity or cause they're passionate about.

By serving others, our children will learn valuable lessons about compassion, humility, and the importance of giving back.

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mom and toddler praying for an abundant life together

10. Pray with and for Your Children

Prayer—it's a powerful tool for shaping a child's behavior and character! Prayer helps children develop a strong faith, understand God's love, and cultivate a personal relationship with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to "pray without ceasing."

Pray with and for your children regularly, using simple and heartfelt prayers. This can be done during mealtimes or bedtime routines, before important events or challenges, when they're facing struggles or difficulties, and when they're experiencing joy and gratitude.

By praying with and for our children, we're teaching them the value of faith, hope, and trust in God's goodness and love.

Intentional effort is crucial to encouraging good behavior in children. By modeling good behavior, teaching biblical values, setting clear boundaries, practicing positive reinforcement, encouraging open communication, teaching responsibility, showing physical affection, teaching empathy and compassion, providing service opportunities, and praying with and for our children, we can help them develop into capable, confident, and compassionate individuals.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/tatyana_tomsickova

Emmanuel Abimbola headshotEmmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.

Originally published Monday, 17 June 2024.