How Stop Your Child from Misbehaving
All parents have experienced it at some point in their child’s life – the dreaded public temper tantrum. Or sometimes it is just that stubborn and awkward behaviour that comes out when they don’t want to do something. It can be embarrassing and make you want to react in some way to stop the problem quickly yet whatever you try, things seem to escalate. So what are the ways that can help stop your child misbehaving? And, why do they do it in the first place?
Are they doing it on purpose?
Talk to a child psychologist and they will tell you that kids often misbehave for a reason and are acting up on purpose for one of a number of reasons. Understanding these reasons can help you deal with the situation in one way or another.
For example, for many kids acting up is a way of testing the boundaries. They want to know what they can and can’t do in different situations and is often why they misbehave when you are away from home – they are figuring out how to act in this new situation.
Another reason for misbehaviour can be different sets of expectations experienced at home and at school. While every parent will raise their kids as they see fit, sometimes kids can have problems if there are too many mixed messages between the two. It never hurts to chat with school teachers and see how they handle problems in the classroom, find out what language they use to give a sense of continuity.
Misunderstanding the rules or simply asserting their own independence are other common reasons for bad behaviour. Sometimes they don’t ‘get’ what is required of them, perhaps because parents or teachers are making things too complicated for their development stage. Other times, they understand it perfectly but are at the stage where they don’t want to follow instructions and have a sense of their own self.
Finally, the classic reason for bad behaviour – boredom, hunger, tiredness or feeling ill. We adults have all done a version of it. You feel lousy and you snap at someone or you lose your temper quicker than normal. Kids are a little different and will act up, misbehave or be stubborn.
Can reasoning help resolve the problem?
Every parent will have their own solution to deal with misbehaving children but scientists have studied the subject in some depth and have a surprising solution – sometimes reasoning with kids can stop the bad behaviour.
One study spoke to just over 100 parents and talked about how they dealt with ‘toddler non-compliance’ or naughtiness to the rest of us. They complied the answers and studied what seemed to work best.
They found that for mild misbehaviours such as whining or trying to negotiate out of doing something (Do I have to?) then reasoning was the most effective way to deal with the child. Punishment such as sending them to a naughty step or corner had the least effect.
However, when the behaviour was more serious in what is terms as ‘oppositional behaviour’ where the child is being defiant, hitting out or what they call ‘passive non-compliance’ then reasoning was the least effective and the punishment option was the second best option. The winner in these situations? Compromising.
However, before you start compromising at every turn to have a well behaved child, the study found over the longer term, compromise made for the most behavioural problems. Reasoning was the way that led in the long run to better behaved children despite initially being less effective.
Penalties from schools for bad behaviour
Schools have talked about penalising children for bad behaviour for a number of years now as classroom behaviour takes a downwards spiral and teachers find themselves unable to deal with some kids. Going back to 2009, a government study said that parenting contracts to deal with parents of badly behaved children were the way to go, including fining them £50 for actions such as condoning truancy.
At the time, there was a lot of concern that head teachers were offering prizes for good behaviour, rather than dealing with bad behaviour and this led to a lack of solid boundaries for the kids to understand.
Currently, schools set their behaviour policy with rules on conduct during and after the school day and sanctions usually include being told off, a letter sent to parents then more serious moves such as removal from class, confiscation of an item inappropriate for school such as a mobile phone or game console and even detention.
The final step for bad behaviour is exclusion from class and this involves that parent being told the reason for the exclusion and the length. During the first five days of an exclusion, parents also have the obligation to keep the child at home and away from public places, to make it a punishment and not a holiday. After the five days, if they are still excluded, the school must arrange for full time education such as a pupil referral unit.
Does your child’s name spell trouble?
Teachers have a set system to deal with problem children but it seems that there is a degree of pre-judging that can take place in some cases and this can even be based on something as obscure as the child’s name. Some teachers have admitted judging the likely behaviour of a child based on their name, often before they have even met them.
Names such as Bobbi-Jo, Kloe, Kristopher, Jayne, Wayne, Liam and Ryan come with negative associations for some teachers while names such as Gregory, Sean, Charlotte, Daniel and Imran have positive associations.
Of course, there’s no way that the child’s name has any reflection on their behaviour!
Dealing with bad behaviour in children can often be a trial and error system where you attempt one method and then adapt it when it doesn’t work. Understanding why your child misbehaves is a big part of understanding the process, though it is unlikely that their name alone has anything to do with it!