Creative Child

The Four Goals of Misbehavior Series: Part Two

(Revenge and Inadequacy)
by Rebecca Eanes


Next, replace punishment with problem-solving to give your child the skills needed to make amends and move forward. Ask questions like “what caused you to do this,” “what could you have done differently,” and “how are you going to fix this?” It’s easy to dole out a punishment and make them “serve time,” but to really raise responsible people, we have to give them responsibility, and that includes the responsibility to correct their own mistakes.

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Finally, work on strengthening your relationship with that child. A positive, healthy relationship is so important in a child’s life, and yet we so often use discipline techniques and tricks that harm the relationship and sew distrust. When you show up as a loving, positive leader, you’ll foster a trusting relationship that will help you lead your child down the right path.

Goal four: Display of inadequacy.

This type of behavior shows up when the child has given up. They may feel unworthy or inferior, and their behavior often looks like withdrawal, self-criticism, and a negative attitude. This kind of behavior is exasperating for parents who want to see our children happy, confident, and successful.

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Stop all criticism. Critical words diminish the child’s sense of self and break confidence. Criticism is one of the “four horsemen” according to the work of Dr. John Gottman; these are four relationship destroyers. Criticism is especially harmful to sensitive children and children whose love language is words of affirmation. Of course, parents aren’t perfect just as our children aren’t perfect, so if you speak hurtful criticism to your child and see the light dim in their eyes a bit, simply apologize and get on with soul-building encouragement.

Be your child’s light reflector. Think about this. The people in our lives who look past our faults and see our beauty, the ones who still see the light in us during the times we feel only darkness, those are the people who save us from the depths of blackness. Those are the ones who help us see our own beauty and light again. We all need that person - someone who reflects our light back at us so we can see it, too. That's what a parent should be. That’s what it means to become light reflectors. We should always seek to see our child’s light, to hold it sacred, and to show it to them when they need a glimpse.

Finally, when you see behaviors that are a display of inadequacy, focus on and encourage your child’s positive attempts and behaviors, no matter how small. Offer encouraging words daily. Try these 50 positive affirmations for kids.

Look for part one of this series where I discuss Dr. Dreikurs’ first two goals of misbehavior, attention and power.



The Social Discipline Model of Rudolf Dreikurs

Four Goals of Misbehavior Chart

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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