Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Misbehaviour in Children: Four Funny Facts!

All children misbehave once in a while. However, persistent misbehaviour in children can be a complex issue that has no quick fix solutions. It can be the result of several factors and is usually a combination of the child’s environment and his temperament. There are four funny facts about misbehaving children, which you may have experienced at some point in your life, either as an adult dealing with a child or as a child yourself in your younger days!

  1. The more you focus on the misbehaviour of a child, the more of the same you will get- Look at misbehaviour as a wound. Constant scratching of any wound interferes in its healing. It is tempting to scratch a wound. Similarly, it is tempting for adults to focus all their energy and attention on misbehaving children. However, just as a wound takes longer to heal when constantly scratched, a misbehaving child will take longer to learn good behaviour if he is constantly reminded about his bad behaviour.
  2. The more you threaten a misbehaving child with false consequences, the less he starts fearing them and the more difficult it gets for you-  After a point, children understand that most threats issued by adults are empty and stop fearing them.
  3. The more you believe that a child is incapable of good behaviour, the more he will strive to show you that he is indeed incapableOften, adults take the bad behaviour of children personally and do not believe that such children are even capable of behaving well. Children sense the lack of trust that adults have in them. Hence, they lack the motivation to behave any better!
  4. The more you punish a misbehaving child, the more resentful he gets and the more opportunities you lose to guide the child towards good behaviour- Punishments always seem to produce instantaneous results. They are a convenient option when all else fails. They stop misbehaviour at that moment but do little else to guide the child towards good behaviour. How will a child behave well if he does not even now what good behaviour is and if the adults around him keep punishing him for his bad behaviour? Teaching a misbehaving child about good behaviour takes patience and persistence!

Read the story of four year old Sam to understand these points better-

A four year old boy Sam has the habit of talking rudely to his family, teachers and friends. One day on seeing Sam talking rudely to another child, his teacher says, “Sam, why are you being rude to your friend? Don’t you know how to behave well? Are you a bad boy?” To which Sam replies- “Teacher, why are you scolding me? I will beat you now”. The shocked teacher scolds him again and makes him sit in a corner. Once out of the corner, Sam goes around destroying every child’s work- he knocks down building blocks, tears drawing sheets and screams at the top of his voice.

The helpless teacher drags him out of the class, threatening to take him to the principal. Once out of the class, she gives him a lecture on why it is important to behave well. “Sam, good boys don’t behave this way. Are you a good boy or a bad boy? If you are a bad boy, you will not have any friends.. Remember that. Shall I take you to the Principal’s room now?” Sam just gives her a blank stare and does not say anything. 

Now, taking the child to the principal was just a threat to instil fear in Sam and not meant to be carried out. Sam was not affected by this threat, which he had heard from different teachers hundreds of times! As a result, the teacher got frustrated and not knowing what else to do, took him back to class. Day after day, the story repeated itself. Sam behaved badly. He was scolded, lectured to, threatened and isolated. Though there seemed to be spurts of  improvement in his behaviour at times, it was never long lasting.

Management and reversal of persistent misbehaviour requires an approach that is consistently patient and positive!


  1. intersting facts upon kids behaviour...waiting to read more.

  2. The next post will be out shortly. Thanks Jaya!