Creative Child

7 Ways to Stop Misbehavior

by Rebecca Eanes on Oct 15th, 2015

Children behave the way they do for a reason, and rather than simply looking to punish the behavior, positive parenting is about looking for and addressing the reasons behind it. Below, I’m outlining 7 top reasons children misbehave and to address each one, so as to stop the misbehavior.

Remember, punishing a misbehavior may stop it temporarily, but it doesn’t solve the problem underneath, and often times, that problem will just manifest in other ways until it is addressed and solved.

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Reason #1: Attention

It’s a simple fact that children need a lot of attention, yet we tend to get frustrated at them when they display certain behaviors “just to get our attention.” I love what Dr. Gordon Neufeld says about this: “If we see a child who wants attention, why wouldn’t we give it to him? Why wouldn’t we meet this basic need?”

In today’s buzzing and distracted world, we can spend the entire day in the presence of our children and still not give them much attention. It can be difficult to juggle all the balls we have in the air. It comes down to prioritizing. If you give most of your focused attention to your child when she misbehaves, that’s likely what she’ll keep doing. On the other hand, if you give plenty of positive, loving attention, there will be no need to misbehave to get it.

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If you suspect attention is the reason behind your child’s misbehavior, try these tips:

1. Practice active listening whenever you can.

If your child is speaking to you, make a point to stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and listen with the intent of understanding. If you cannot do so at that moment, say, “I’d love to hear what you have to say. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll give you my full attention.”

2. When your child is engaged in positive behaviors (is being helpful, kind, or cooperative), offer genuine, descriptive feedback. This is not the same as “good job.”

Descriptive feedback says:

  • “I see you. I’m paying attention!”
  • It means you notice the effort, not just the outcome.
  • It’s “Thank you for being patient while I was on the phone. I see you were wanting to show me your drawing, but you waited. I appreciate that” rather than “good job not interrupting.”

3. If you have more than one child, you already know they can compete for your attention.

Solve this by carving out one-on-one time with each child. It doesn’t have to be a really long amount of time; even a few minutes of focused attention a day can have a positive impact on behavior.

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Related Article: The Best Kept Secret in Parenting

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