Parenting - Why Children Misbehave

Children misbehave for simple reasons. They are tired, hungry, afraid, sick, angry, or discouraged. Attending to the child’s needs or helping the child with his feelings may be all that is needed to deal with problem behavior in these cases.

Children will also misbehave over power issues. They want to call the shots and be in control. Many parents will either get frustrated (and give in) or they will assume a dominant stance to show that they are the boss. Both of these responses teach that power is the way to win or lose. This is NOT what we want to teach our children!

Parents need to learn to look past the issue and teach a lesson of working together to solve a problem.

Once you understand what the child is feeling, you can determine how to handle it. When your child misbehaves, ask yourself:
Is my child hungry?
Is my child tired?
Is my child afraid?
Is my child sick?
Is my child angry?
Is my child discouraged?
Is my child looking for attention?
Is my child trying to be in control?

Another thing that we need to keep in mind when handling a misbehaving child is what we are feeling right this minute. If we are tired, angry, sick, hungry, afraid or discouraged, we may fall into the same pattern as our misbehaving child. This can lead us to choose the wrong parenting strategy.

There are three basic steps to take in dealing with misbehavior.

Step one:
Determine why the child is misbehaving.

Step two:
Calm ourselves before we deal with it. Decide on an approach that does not involve a "power struggle" and address the child. Keep on mind that if you resort to a "power struggle" you may win the battle, but you will lose the war. Our children learn by watching us. How we handle this confrontation will be stored in his memory and he will use it to win his own battles. Do NOT teach this to your child!

Step three:
Be nice. “Nice” means being polite, kind, gentle, calm, reasonable, and avoiding insults and putdowns.

Learn what works with your child. Deal with all misbehavior in a calm, respectful way. You will be rewarded with a calmer child.


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