Children Behave -   A Practical Guide for Parents

Prospective parents making plans? New parents putting them on hold? Far from new, but struggling? Want to make a fresh start? Or just in need of a helping hand? This book was written for all of you.

*Available in bookstores across the UK and Amazon in Paperback and Kindle format.

Table of Contents

A brief guide to topics covered in the book

Chapter One: Managing Children’s Behaviour
Chapter Two: The Meaning of Behaviour

Chapter Three: Unacceptable Behaviour
Chapter Four: Looking Back
Chapter Five: Your Turn
Chapter Six: Right or Wrong?

Chapter Seven: Helping Children to Behave
Chapter Eight: All Purpose Suggestions and Ideas
Chapter Nine: Damage Control
Chapter Ten: Conclusion

Bed Time
Bed Wetting
Divorce and Separation
Dummy or Thumb?

Mobile Phones
Picky Eaters
Sex Education
Special Needs
Starting Behaviour Management

Snippets from the Book

Some of our favourite bits

Haven’t we all heard – or even said ourselves – things like ‘How many times do I have to tell you?’ and ‘I’m warning you, do that one more time and…?’

Broken promises lose motivation, repeated threats just get ignored, and either, long awaited, are soon forgotten, like the one I heard in a supermarket on a sweltering August afternoon: a weary mother telling her troublesome four year-old ‘Santa won’t be coming to our house if your carry on like that.

No-one else knows, cares, thinks or worries as much about your children as you do, and it’s the intention of this book to help you become experts in your own child care.

Here, from my experience, is a list of the seven most common meanings and messages of children’s misbehaviour.

  1. Give me more attention.
  2. Give me more control over my life.
  3. I am bored, give me something to do.
  4. Can I get away with this? (Testing boundaries.)
  5. I am confused/angry/frightened. (Needing your help/control.)
  6. Just copying my friends.
  7. Why not if you do?

Most parents find themselves sometimes saying or doing things in front of their children which it would be better if they had not. Things like swearing, smacking, smoking, being inconsistent or unfair. I know I have, and expect so also will you.

Red socks or blue socks? The choice matters more to the child than to even the most fashion-conscious parent who, allowing it, may be rewarded by an easier time with all the other clothes.

The only three things that really matter when it comes to the behaviour management of any family:

  1. Decisions agreed and shared for their mutual support and united front.
  2. Rules and standards that are consistently maintained so the children know what to expect.
  3. Whatever their particular regime, it is the parents, not the children, who are in charge.

When it comes to right and wrong in the care of children there are very few things – as the saying goes – written in stone. These are the ones that have been most important and useful to me.

  1. All children need attachment to a consistent and attentive parent or carer.
  2. Children learn through play: exploring their world, making believe, making a mess, acquiring new skills, learning by mistakes. Rather than a waste of time, most play should be seen as children’s ‘work’.
  3. Self-esteem is both cause and effect of achievement, so make sure to notice and compliment your children for each – even small – success.

Give me a child till he is seven, and I will give you the man.’ So the Jesuits have been saying, since the seventeenth century, about the young people in their care. The clear implication is that children don’t suddenly become well-behaved the day after their seventh birthday. My own interpretation of this old saying is ‘teach your child acceptable behaviour while s/he is still pick-up-able and carry-able to your choice of naughty, time-out or ‘reflection’ place in your home.

We all make mistakes with our children and regret things we have and have not done, but we can all take comfort from the teaching of one of our most respected child psychiatrists. Donald Winnicott claimed that even if perfect parenting were possible, it would not be in the best interest of children who need to learn, while still at home, how to deal with the failings of others as well as their own. With that in mind, all parents can – and need to – be is not perfect, but in Doctor Winnicott’s time honoured expression, simply ‘good enough’.

What Our Readers Are Saying

If only I’d had this lovely book when my children were small. Fun, distraction, boundaries and freedom: all the things that really matter are here in abundance, and all in a highly user-friendly format.

Jeremy Holmes

Consultant Psychiatrist

This is a sensible book for guiding children's behaviour with 'no-nonsense' advice: easy to read and equally easy to implement.

Julie Brough

NHS Mental Health Partnership

I wish I'd had this book when I was bringing my daughter up.


Care-leaver and single mum

An easy read and a great practical guide. Ms. Hobart provides real-life anecdotal stories and examples throughout the book to illustrate the concepts. These examples are not only interesting, but also help the reader understand the various topics. It is patently clear that Ms. Hobart has an extensive background and years of experience working with children -- her passion for children really shines through.

Mara Sibley

Amazon Customer

I can't praise this book enough. 'Children Behave' is non-judgemental. It is real. It does not preach. It is well written. If you feel you want to parent your child with compassion and understanding, then this is the book for you. The advice and examples throughout this book are common sense and kind, yet evidence-based on sound psychological research. Ms Hobart writes from a lifetime of experience of working with children and parents. If you sometimes struggle with staying calm in the face of a tantrum or 'bad' behaviour and want to find a way to quell those inner angry voices then this book will provide you with practical and compassionate techniques to calm down and approach your child with love and understanding. 'Children Behave' will be a book that I would wish to give as a present to any new parent of my acquaintance.

Katrina Byrne

Congratulations to Virginia Hobart. This is good work, full of insight and very enjoyable to read.

Rosalind Miles

Author, journalist, broadcaster and magistrate

This is an excellent, readable, and, most importantly, accurate guide to parenting. I wish every child psychiatrist and therapist handed this out to parents at the time of a first consultation. Ms. Hobart speaks to issues which are no longer "common sense," but should be.....

Dr. Barbara Ziv

Forensic Psychiatrist

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About the Author

Virginia Hobart

At university Virginia Hobart studied sociology, psychology and education which qualified her for social work in English and Canadian schools, hospital wards and local authority departments during the next forty five years. It was, however, from her experience as a mother, foster-mother and family support worker that she learned more about bringing up children than from all her teachers and books.

Towards the end of her career, while working for Devon County Council (Children and Families Department), she contributed to the preparation of prospective adoption and foster parents with a much appreciated evening class on Behaviour Management. Quite a challenge, in just two and a half hours, to cover such a complex and important subject in a way that would be useful to groups of hopeful couples from all walks of life. Her solution was to address the principle and purposes of behaviour with easily recognisable examples, and to engage each class in discussion about their own childhood experience, as well as some simple exercises to make particular points. Finally, over coffee, the evening ended with a long list of practical suggestions for the management – or even prevention – of their children’s unacceptable behaviour.

After retirement, it occurred to her that the same material could just as well be conveyed in the written, as the spoken, word. And now it is all to be found in this self-help book for the use of prospective and actual parents, whether on their own, in in groups of interested neighbours and friends.

Drop Ginny A Message

If you have something you want to say to Ginny, whether it be a review of her book, a question you want to ask about certain topics in the book, or indeed something not covered in the book, she is always happy to offer you her advice.