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Why Do Children Misbehave?

Goal

To be able to understand why children misbehave

Why Do Children Misbehave? (Barkley, 2013)

I am sure this is a question that many of us have asked at times. While dealing with children can at times be frustrating, especially in the heat of a conflict or argument, it is important to remember why children or teens misbehave.

Sometimes, characteristics that children have can contribute to their misbehaving. For example, if your child is more stubborn, they may be more difficult at times. In addition, if your child is hyperactive, this could contribute to their misbehavior as well. Most of us are probably more likely to be able to identify our children’s characteristics that can contribute to misbehaving. However, have you ever considered what characteristics you have that may contribute to difficulties with your child? It seems that our own characteristics are often not our first thought. Many of us may have a low tolerance for stress or may be impatient. These are some characteristics or tendencies that can contribute to or make our children’s misbehaving worse. So far, we have two things which can contribute to children misbehaving: 1) children’s characteristics 2) parental/caregiver characteristics.

A third characteristic which can contribute to children misbehaving is situational characteristics. Basically, children often want to get something or avoid something. When your child is misbehaving or upset, consider what they are trying to avoid or get. Concentrating on this may give you some insight into what their difficulty is.

Why Do Children MisbehaveA fourth characteristic is family stress. Often, what is going on within our family affects our children more than we may acknowledge. Family stress can impact our own emotional well-being towards our children as well as how we view our children. Separating ourselves from family stress when dealing with our children is difficult but beneficial. If you are having troubles with your spouse or in-laws, etc., your energy and patience may be low. Imagine that you then are dealing with your child being difficult. Your stress tolerance is already low. It is likely that this will push your abilities and patience over the edge. Try to monitor stress in your own family and life.

In conclusion, many factors contribute to a child misbehaving. Throughout your interactions with your child, think about the four characteristics which influence a child’s behavior:

  1. Child’s characteristics
  2. Parental/caregiver characteristics
  3. Situational characteristics
  4. Family stress

An example of a situational characteristic is:

Which of the following are characteristics that can contribute to children misbehaving?

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