Most parents have often experienced the child misbehaving, throwing tantrums, or having aggressive reactions. We have tried various options to calm them down. Most of the time, we exercise our position of authority and veto out their behavior. But do we understand what causes them to misbehave? Misbehavior represents a child who is experimenting or is mistaken about ways to find a place in the world around them. Most of the time, it has its roots in one of the four common motives:

    • Attention seeking: A mistaken self-expectation about the need to constantly prove their worth. Too eager to please, disruptively interruptive, and showing-off are the common signs of it.
    • Power seeking: Another mistaken understanding is that being in control proves their worth. These are the disobedient, stubborn ones. They will lie, throw tantrums, or argue to intimidate you.
    • Revenge seeking: This is the trait of the child who has made-belief that the world has been unfair to him, and it’s justified of him to get even with it. They have the justified confidence to hurt anyone they believe getting even with for the perceived injustices. They could resort to being insulting in public and be even destructive.
    • Displaying inadequacy: This is a child who uses surrender, being lonesome, avoiding participation, etc., as a way to preserve their self-worth. They will be unwelcoming or cold, non-indulgent, or prefer to be solitary to avoid any possibility of public display of their helplessness.

I have read somewhere that children misbehave when hungry, angry, lonely/bored, or tired (HALT). They are trying to communicate feelings that are causing them pain. Just that they aren’t able to express them right. With little effort and a few careful steps could bring very positive results in this matter. Most importantly, irrespective of misbehavior type, it is the attention that child is seeking. Giving your child that proper attention and time will help a big way. Beyond that few things that could be fruitful are:

    • A child learns by imitating what they hear, see and experience. Ensure right exposure. 
    • Reprimand in private and praise in public. 
    • Lack of skills is the core reason behind the misbehavior. So be there to teach and support in developing skills. 
    • Don’t overcrowd them. Give space to let the child experience the independence and control they seek. Instead of declaring what you want them to do, give them options to choose from. 
    • Don’t give in to misbehaving. That is how children learn “IT WORKS” and are encouraged to take it to the next level.
    • Set clear boundaries and expectations. Ambiguity could lead to confusion, which leads to frustrations, causing the child to misbehave.
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