Every parent reaches their wits end when dealing with children’s misbehavior. Just remember that your child isn’t “out to get you”, there are often very explainable and preventable reasons for misbehavior.
The most common reasons for misbehavior are:

1. Your child’s basic needs aren’t being met, he is tired, cranky or hungry which makes all his emotions magnified and little problems difficult to handle.

  • What you can do: make sure your child is fed and rested before venturing out. Make sure you don’t skip a meal or your child’s nap time. It can take some compromise on your part as a parent to make sure you’re child finds a place to take his nap while you’re out but it will make both of you happy in the long term.

2. Seeking attention, your child may be trying to get your attention and learned that getting attention through misbehavior is easier and more effective.

  • What you can do:  Try to ignore unwanted attention seeking behavior as long as your child isn’t harming himself or others. Make sure you praise positive behavior so your child realizes there is an alternative way to get your attention. With repetition your child will learn he can do positive things instead of misbehaving to get your attention.

3. Displaying inadequacy,children who feel inadequate will refuse to try new things and give up easily.

  • What you can do: Offer your child encouragement when approaching a task. Use encouraging words and phrases like “you can do it!”. Try to offer your child toys or activities that are within your child’s developmental abilities with a bit of challenge to help in learn but not cause frustration. Remember to  give him the space and  independence to do it on his own but be close by in case he asks for help.

4. Controlling, children who want to be in control refuse to follow direct requests, lash out when reprimanded and refuse to do what their parents request.

  • What you can do: Don’t get yourself into a power struggle, simply state expectations and consequences in advance. If your child does not follow through (cleaning up) then follow with the consequence (can’t go out to play). With repetition and time your child will learn to avoid consequences with minimal conflict. As a parent make sure you do not insist on everything as well. It’s best to keep firm rules down to a few that mainly have to do with safety like crossing the street or not touching the oven. This gives you room to compromise and revisit other rules as your child grows and has different developmental needs and capabilities.

5. Revenge seeking behavior is when your child shows mean behavior like saying “i don’t love you” or breaking another child’s toy. This behavior reflects that your child feels he has no value or little worth.

  • What you can do: There is usually an underlying reason why children lash out with hurtful words and phrases. Sometimes a simple incident like leaving a birthday before seeing the clown can seem like the end of the world for your child with such intense emotions. The best way to handle this is to avoid consequences that might be viewed as retaliation, instead help him make amends like fixing the friend’s toy or make sure to explain why you had to leave the birthday at that time and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Most importantly remind your child that you LOVE him even when he is misbehaving. This can be hard but will help him stop acting out for revenge.

Photo from Mariam El Mofty

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