Children misbehave for a reason and once we understand what that reason is, we’re that much closer to finding a solution to deal with it. Here is a list of some of the most common reasons children misbehave:
Everyone has a basic need to be noticed. If children feel they’re not being noticed they’ll find a way to get our attention and usually acting out is the easiest way. Negative attention is better than nothing. If we’re going about our day, doing our own thing and suddenly we notice our child is off limits in some way, we stop what we’re doing and try and get them to stop. It worked. They got our attention.
2. NEED FOR POWER OR CONTROL
Apart from attention, we also have a basic need to feel we have power and control in our lives. If we don’t feel we have it, we find ways to get it. Children will say “no” just to gain control or they’ll do the opposite of what we’ve asked them to do, for the same reason. They’ll argue with us. They’ll get into a power struggle. If they sense their day is being completely orchestrated by someone else, they’ll find a way to gain back some control.
3. UNCLEAR BOUNDARIES
If children don’t know how far they can go or if rules are vague and inconsistent, many will test to find out exactly where the boundaries are. There is a conversation in their head that goes something like this: “I wonder if I do this, I’ll get into trouble” or “The last time I did this, no one said anything. I think I’ll try it again and see what happens” or “I’m not sure what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m going to find out for myself.”
4. ANGER AND HOSTILITY IN THE HOME
Children are extremely sensitive to everything going on around them. If parents are continually fighting in front of their kids or the tension is so intense it can be felt by everyone, all those feelings are picked up. They will also pick up if we’re distracted by something that is bothering us. It makes children feel insecure and fearful. Those feelings translate into anger. Their hostile behaviour may be a direct reflection of what they’re picking up at home.
5. PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT
Young children will act out when they’re tired or hungry. Many older children will as well but they’re better able to recognize the signs. It’s very easy to over-stimulate a young child by doing too many activities in one day. They can get into a state of stimulation overload which makes most people, including children, irritable. Some can handle more activities than others so it’s important to know your child’s threshold.
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